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Coleccion Hilary E. Arathoon 


Universidad Francisco Marroqufn 
Biblioteca Ludwig E. Von Mises 

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The Case for the Free Market 

The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc. 
Irvington-on-Hudson, New York 1964 

The Author and Publisher 

Leonard E. Read, author of Conscience of 
the Majority, Government — An Ideal Con- 
cept, Miracle of the Market, Students of 
Liberty, Why Not Try Freedom?, Elements 
of Libertarian Leadership, and other books 
and articles, is President of the Foundation 
for Economic Education, organized in 1946. 

The Foundation is an educational cham- 
pion of private ownership, the free market, 
the profit and loss system, and limited 
government. It is nonprofit and nonpoliti- 
cal. Sample copies of the Foundation's 
monthly study journal, the freeman, are 
available on request. 


Copyright 1964, by Leonard E. Read. Permission to reprint 
granted without special request. • printed in u.s.a. 




Let anyone do anything, so long as his actions are 
peaceful; limit government to keeping the peace. The 
author's premise. Incorruptibility defined and its im- 
portance emphasized. 



A review of our evolutionary past should help us to 
better cope with the devolutionary theories and prac- 
tices of the present. 


Socialism rests on raw violence. Peaceful people rarely 
carry noncompliance far enough to discover this shock- 
ing fact about our "social gains." 


Socialism only gives the appearance of being produc- 
tive. What we mistake for socialism's achievement is 
free human energy pushing its way through the stifling 
bureaucratic regimentation. 





When the individual forsakes or has taken from him 
a sense of self-responsibility, he loses the very essence 
of his being. 


Socialism gives rise to unnatural and unmarketable 
human efforts and specialties, exchangeable only under 
duress. If this persists, our once dynamic economy 
will spin aparti 



Labor unions cause inflation precisely as do chambers 
of commerce and all other groups which seek handouts 
from the federal treasury; not, as is commonly suf>- 
posed, by way of price and wage "spirals." 


Committees tend to absolve individuals from personal 
responsibility for positions taken, thus permitting care- 
less and irresponsible actions which seriously threaten 
the peace. 


Voting presupposes a choice. Citizens have no moral 
obligation to cast a ballot for the "lesser of two evils," 
or for one of two trimmers; trimming is not compara- 
tive, since every trimmer is without integrity. 



The real and revealing distinction between the social- 
ist, on the one hand, and the student of liberty, on the 
other, is a difference of opinion as to what peaceful 
actions others should be prohibited from taking. 



Creative human energies combine miraculously to form 
a jet plane, a symphony, a pencil, just as molecules 
combine to form a living tree. 



The most important discovery in economic science may 
be stated in a simple sentence. If fully mastered, it is 
all the economics the layman needs to know. 


The free market computer, if permitted to operate, re- 
quires no attendants and its services are free. It can 
automatically receive billions of flowing data daily, 
giving off simple signals in the form of prices. 


Let anyone deliver catalogues and letters as freely as we 
are permitted to deliver freight or sound or human 
beings. An explanation of why so many people mis- 
takenly believe that mail delivery could not possibly 
be left to private enterprise. 



An introduction to the myths surrounding government 
education, and how these myths create a distressing 
confusion over academic freedom. 



Government education is predicated on one's education 
being in conformity with the way others think he 
should be educated. An explanation of how coercion 
in education creates an imbalance between know-how 
and wisdom. 


Education to fit the individual; in short, the case for 
the free market in education. 


The good society will never emerge from man's drafting 
boards. Instead, it is a dividend flowing from the 
presence, in the pink of condition, of a natural aris- 
tocracy of virtue and talents among men. 

INDEX 239 

Many favor peace hut not many favor 
the things that make for peace. 


• CHAPTER 1 • 


Galileo was called on the carpet, tried by the Inquisition, 
and put in prison because he affirmed the theory of Co- 
pernicus that the solar system does not revolve around our 
earth. The truth as he perceived it was a break with the 
prevailing faith; he committed the unpardonable sin of 
affronting the mores. This was his guilt. 

Americans — enlightened as we suppose ourselves to be — 
are inclined to view with scorn that illiberal attitude of 
some three centuries ago which sought to keep the light of 
new evidence away from the fallacies of that time. Fie on 
such childish intolerance; we are not afraid of truth; let the 
light shine inl 

Perhaps we should pause for a moment and carefully 
scrutinize what our own mirror reveals. A letter in the 
morning mail highlights my point: this woman had visited 
the librarian of the high school to which she had made a gift 
of The Freeman, a monthly journal that presents, dispas- 
sionately but consistently, the rationale of the free market, 
private property, limited government philosophy, along 


with its moral and spiritual antecedents. She discovered 
that the journal was not among the periodicals displayed 
for student perusal, that it had been discreetly relegated to 
the teachers' reading room. What was the reason for this 
under- the-rug procedure? The librarian explained, "The 
Freeman is too conservative." My correspondent, distraught 
by this illiberal attitude— by this attempt to keep students 
from knowing about the freedom philosophy — asked of 
me, "What can we do about this?" 

The answer to this question is to be found in an old 
English proverb, "Truth will out!" As it did with Galileo's 
theory, so it will do with the ideology of freedom I However, 
if we would conserve our energies and act in the best 
interests of the freedom philosophy, we will do well to re- 
flect on the most effective way to lend a hand to the phi- 
losophy. Suppose, for instance, Galileo had exerted pres- 
sure on the Inquisitors to purvey that fragment of truth 
he had come upon. The folly of such a tactic is clear: His 
truth in the hands of his enemies; heaven forbid! Likewise, 
it is folly for us to exert influence on those of the collectiv- 
istic faith — be they librarians, teachers, book reviewers or 
bookstore owners, politicians, or whoever — to carry the mes- 
sage of individuality and its essential concomitant, freedom 
in exchange. If one wishes to win, never choose team- 
mates who are intent on losing the contest. Indeed, such 
folks should be scrupulously avoided as partners. 

The way to give truth a hand is to pursue a do-it-your- 
self policy. Each must do his own seeking and revealing. 
Such success as one experiences will uncover and attract all 
the useful, helpful, sympathetic teammates one's pursuit 



deserves. This appears to be truth's obstacle course—no 
short cuts allowed. 

A Dark Age is followed by an Enlightenment; devolution 
and evolution follow on each other's heels; myth and truth 
have each their day, now as ever. These opposites — action 
and reaction — occur with the near regularity of a pendu- 
lum, here as elsewhere, the vaunted "common sense of the 
American people" notwithstanding. 

Th« Faith in Collectivism 
Our time, as did Galileo's, witnesses an enormous intol- 
erance toward ideas which challenge the prevailing faith, 
that faith today being collectivism — world-wide. Americans 
during the past three or four decades have swung over- 
whelmingly toward the myths implicit in statism; but, more 
than this, they have become actually antagonistic to, and 
afraid of identification with, free market, private property, 
limited government principles. Indeed, such is the impact 
of the collectivistic myth, they shy away from any idea or 
jjerson or institution which the political welfarists and 
planners choose to label as "rightists." I have labored full 
time in this controversy for more than thirty years and, 
having a good memory, these shifts are as clear to me as if 
they had occurred in the last few moments, or I'd just viewed 
a time-lapse movie of these events. Were I unaware that 
such actions and reactions are inevitable in the scheme of 
things — particularly when observing such behavior by busi- 
nessmen as well as by teachers, clergymen, and labor offi- 
cials — I would be unable to believe my eyes. 


Yet, truth will out! While myth and truth contend in 
their never-ending fray, truth inches ahead over the mil- 
lennia as might be expected from the evolutionary process. 
My faith says that this is ordained, if we he worthy, for 
what meaning can truth have except our individual per- 
ception of it? This is to say that among the numerous im- 
peratives of truth is that many individuals do their utmost 
in searching for it and reporting whatever their search re- 

Worthiness also requires of those who would don her 
mantle a quality of character which I shall call incorrupti- 
bility. The more individuals in whom this quality finds 
refinement the better, and the sooner more truth will out. 
This quality is too important to suffer neglect for brevity's 
sake; so let me spell it out. 

If my claim for incorruptibility is to hold water, the no- 
tion of corruption will have to be refined beyond its gen- 
erally accepted identification with bribery, stealing, bold- 
faced lying, and the like. Deplorable as are these specimens, 
they wreak but minor havoc compared to the more subtle 
corruptions of the intellect and the soul which, unfortu- 
nately, are rarely thought of — or even felt — as corruption. 

The level of corruption I wish to examine was suggested 
to me by a friend's honest confession, "I am as much cor- 
rupted by my loves as by my hates." Few of us have suc- 
ceeded in rising above this weakness; indeed, it is difficult to 
find one who has. Where is the individual who has so 
freed himself from his affections for or prejudices against 
persons, parties, creeds that he can utterly disregard these 
passions and weigh each and every act or proposal or idea 


Strictly on its own merits — as if he were unaware of its 
source? Where is the man who can say "yes" or "no" to 
friend or foe with equal detachment? So rare are such in- 
dividuals that we run the risk of concluding that no such 
person exists. 

However, we must not despair. Recently, I was presented 
with an idea by an unknown author — in these words: 
"There is no such thing as a broken commitment." Observ- 
ing on many occasions that people do actually go back on 
their bond, I thought this to be at odds with the facts of 
life. Later, its meaning was explained to me: An unbroken 
commitment in this context means something more than 
paying debts, keeping promises, observing contracts. A man 
has a commitment to his own conscience, that is, to truth 
as his highest conscience discerns truth, and every word and 
deed must be an accurate reflection thereof. No pressure 
of fame or fortune or love or hate can even tempt such a 
person to compromise his integrity. At this level of life 
there can be no broken commitment. 

Incorruptibility in its intellectual and spiritual sense 
refers to a higher order of men than is generally known to 
exist. It relates to men whose moral nature is such that in- 
fidelity to conscience is as unthinkable to them as stealing 
pennies from a child's bank is to us. Folks who would de- 
viate from their own highest concept of righteousness simply 
are not of this order nor are they likely to be aware that 
there is such an order of men. 

An interesting sidelight on the individual whose prime 
engagement is with his own conscience and who is not 
swerved by popular acclaim or the lack of it, is that he 


seldom knows who his incorruptible brothers are. They are, 
by their nature — all of them — a quiet lot; indeed, most of 
us are lucky if we ever spot one. 

Signs of Corruption 

At this moment in history, this order of men must be dis- 
tressingly small. The reason for this opinion is the "re- 
spectability" which presently attends all but the basest forms 
of corruption. Almost no shame descends upon seekers 
after office who peddle pure hokum in exchange for votes; 
they sell their souls for political power and become the 
darlings of the very people on whom their wiles are prac- 
ticed. Business and professional men and women, farmers 
and workers, through their associations and lobbies, clergy- 
men from their pulpits, and teachers before their students 
shamelessly advocate special privileges: the feathering of 
the nests of some at the expense of others — and by coer- 
cion! For so doing they receive far more pious acclaim than 
censure. Such are the signs of widespread corruption. 

As further evidence of intellectual corruption, reflect on 
the growing extent to which excuses are advanced as if they 
were reasons. In the politico-economic realm, for example, 
we put an embargo on goods from China because they are, 
in fact, competitive. But professing to favor free, competi- 
tive enterprise, and hesitating to confess that we are against 
competition, we corrupt ourselves and offer the excuse that 
these goods are "red." 

Caviar from Russia — noncompetitive — is imported by 
the ton but is just as "red" as a linen tablecloth from 


China. This typ)e of corruption occurs on an enormous 
scale, but is shrugged off as "good business." Things would 
be otherwise if incorruptibility were more common. 

If I am not mistaken, several rare, incorruptible oversouls 
have passed my way during these last three decades. For 
one thing, they were different. But it cannot be said that 
they stood out from the rest of us for, to borrow a phrase 
from a Chinese sage, they all operated in "creative quiet- 
ness." While not standing out, they were outstanding — that 
is, their |x>sitions were always dictated by what they be- 
lieved to be right. This was their integrity. They consistent- 
ly, everlastingly sought for the right. This was their in- 
telligence. Furthermore, their integrity and intelligence im- 
parted to them a wisdom few ever attain: a sense of being 
men, not gods, and, as a consequence, an awareness of their 
inability to run the lives of others. This was their humility. 
Lastly, they never did to others that which they would not 
have others do to them. This was their justice. 

Truth will out, with enough of these incorruptible souls! 

Th« Truth About Freedom 

Now, having staked out the ideal, it behooves me to ap- 
proximate it as best I can, which is to say, to present the 
truth as I see it, in this instance, as it bears on the free 
market and related institutions. 

By my title, "Anything That's Peaceful," I mean let any- 
one do anything he pleases that's peaceful or creative; let 
there be no organized restraint against anything but fraud, 
violence, misrepresentation, predation; let anyone deliver 


mail or educate or preach his religion or whatever, so long 
as it's peaceful; limit society's agency of organized force — 
government — to juridical and policing functions, tabulating 
the do-nots and prescribing the penalties against unpeace- 
ful actions; let the government do this and leave all else 
to the free, unfettered market! 

All of this, I concede, is an affront to the mores. So be it! 

One more point: Discussion of ideological questions is 
more or less idle unless there be an awareness of what the 
major premise is. At what is the writer aiming? Is he doing 
his reasoning with some purpose in mind? If so, what is it? 

I do not wish to leave anyone in the dark concerning my 
basic point of reference. Realizing years ago that I couldn't 
possibly be consistent in my positions unless I reasoned 
from a basic premise — fundamental point of reference — 
I set about it by asking one of the most difficult of ques- 
tions: What is man's earthly purpose? 

I could find no answer to that question without bump- 
ing, head on, into three of my basic assumptions. The first 
derives from the observation that man did not create him- 
self, for there is evidence aplenty that man knows very little 
about himself, thus: 

1. The primacy and supremacy of an Infinite Consciousness; 

2. The expansibility of individual consciousness, this being 
demonstrably possible; and 

3. The immortality of the individual spirit or consciousness, 
our earthly moments being not all there is to it — this being 
something I know but know not how to demonstrate. 

With these assumptions, the answer to the question, 
"What is man's earthly purpose?" comes clear: It is to ex- 


pand one's own consciousness into as near a harmony with 
Infinite Consciousness as is within the power of each, or, 
in more lay terms, to see how nearly one can come to a 
realization of those creative potentialities peculiar to one's 
own person, each of us being different in this respect. 

This is my major premise with which the reader may or 
may not agree but he can, at least, decide for himself 
whether or not the following chapters are reasoned logical- 
ly from this basic point of reference. 

The ideas offered here have been brewing for several 
years. Many of them, though slightly rephrased, have ap- 
peared elsewhere as separate essays. My aim now is to gath- 
er those fragments into an integrated, free market theme. 

• CHAPTER 2 • 


Someone once said: It isn't that Christianity has been tried 
and found wanting; it has been tried and found difficult — 
and abandoned. Perhaps the same running away from 
righteousness is responsible for freedom's plight for, plain- 
ly, the American people are becoming more and more afraid 
of and are running away from — abandoning — their very 
own freedom revolution. 

Freedom, it seems to me, is of two broad tyf)es, psycholo- 
gical and sociological. The psychological — perhaps the more 
important of the two, but not the major concern of this 
book — has to do with man freeing himself from his own 
superstitions, myths, fears, imperfections, ignorance. This, 
of course, is a never-ending task to which we should give a 
high priority. 

The sociological aspect of freedom, on the other hand, 
has to do with man imposing his will by force on other men. 
It is unfortunate that we need to spend any time on this 
part of the problem, for it calls for combating a situation 
that should not be. For instance, it is absurd for me forcibly 
to impose my will upon you: dictate what you are to dis- 




cover, invent, create, where you shall work, the hours of 
your labor, the wage you shall receive, what and with whom 
you shall exchange. And it is just as absurd for any two 
or even millions or any agency that the millions may con- 
trive—government or otherwise— to try to forcibly direct 
and control your creative or productive or peaceful actions. 

Light can be shed on this thought by reflecting on the 
manner in which human energy manifests itself. Broadly 
speaking, it shows forth as either peaceful or unpeaceful, 
which is to say, as creative or destructive. If my hand is 
used to paint a picture, write this book, build a home, 
strew seed, my energy is manifestly peaceful, creative, pro- 
ductive. But if I make a clenched fist of the same hand and 
strike you with it, my energy is manifestly unpeaceful, de- 

My theme is that any one of us has a moral right to in- 
hibit the destructive actions of another or others, and, by 
the same token, we have a right to organize (government) 
to accomplish this universal right to life, livelihood, liberty. 
But no living |>erson or any combination of persons, re- 
gardless of how organized, has a moral right forcibly to 
direct and control the peaceful, creative, productive ac- 
tions of another or others. To repeat, we should not find 
it necessary to devote time and thought to this sociological 
asp>ect of the freedom problem, but a brief sketch of the 
American setting, past and present, will demonstrate that 
an awakening is now "a must" of the first order. 

Let us pick up the thread of the historical setting be- 
ginning with the year 1620 when our Pilgrim Fathers 
landed at Plymouth Rock. That little colony began by 


practicing communism; all that was produced by each 
member, regardless of how much or how little, was forced 
(unpeaceful) into a common warehouse and the proceeds 
of the warehouse were doled out in accord with the gov- 
erning body's idea of the need. In short, our Pilgrim Fath- 
ers began the practice of a principle that was advanced by 
Karl Marx — more than two centuries later — as the ideal of 
the Communist Party: "from each according to his ability, 
to each according to his need." 

There was a persuasive reason why the Pilgrims threw 
overboard this communalistic or communistic practice: the 
members were starving and dying because, when j>eople are 
organized in this manner, the warehouse always runs out 
of provender. The stark reality of the situation suggested 
to them that their theory was wrong and, bless them, they 
paused for reflection. In the third winter when they met 
with Governor Bradford, he said to them, in effect: Come 
spring, we'll try a new idea. We'll cast aside this communis- 
tic notion of to each according to need and try the idea 
of to each according to merit. Come spring, and each of 
you shall have what each produces. 

As the record has it, springtime witnessed not only fath- 
er in the field but mother and the children as well. Gov- 
ernor Bradford reported much later, "Any generall wante 
or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day."* 

It was by reason of the practice of this private property 
principle that there began in this land of ours an era of 

1 Taken from Bradford's History "of Plimoth Plantation" from the 
original manuscript. Printed under the direction of the Secretary of 
the Commonwealth by order of the General Court (Boston: Wrignt Se 
Potter Printing Company, State Printers, 1898), p. 162. 


growth and development which sooner or later had to lead 
to revolutionary political ideas. And it did lead to what I 
refer to as the real American revolution, the revolution 
from which more and more Americans are now running 
away, as if in fear. 

A Revolutionary Concept 

The real American revolution, however, was not the 
armed conflict we had with King George III. That was a 
reasonably minor fracas as such fracases go! The real 
revolution was a novel concept or idea which was a break 
with all political history. It was something politically new 
on earthi 

Until 1776 men had been contesting with each other — 
killing each other by the millions — over the age-old ques- 
tion of which of the numerous forms of authoritarianism 
— that is, man-made authorities — should preside as sov- 
ereign over man. The argument was not which was better, 
freedom or authoritarianism, but which of the several forms 
of authoritarianism was the least bad. And then, in 1776, in 
the fraction of one sentence written into the Declaration 
of Independence, was stated the real American revolution, 
the new idea, and it was this: "that all men ... are en- 
dowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; 
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Hap- 
piness." There you have it! This is the essence of the orig- 
inal American setting and the rock on which the "Amer- 
ican miracle" was founded. 

The revolutionary idea was at once a spiritual, a political, 


and an economic concept. It was spiritual in that the writ- 
ers of the Declaration recognized and publicly proclaimed 
that the Creator was the endower of man's rights; and, thus, 
it follows, that the Creator is sovereign. 

It was political in that it implicitly denied that the state 
is the endower of man's rights, thus holding to the tenet 
that the state is not sovereign. 

Our revolutionary concept was economic in this sense: 
that if an individual has a right to his life, it follows that 
he has a right to sustain his life — the sustenance of life 
being nothing more nor less than the fruits of one's labor. 

It is one thing intellectually to embrace such a revolu- 
tionary concept as this; it is quite another matter to imple- 
ment it — to put it into practice. The implementation came 
in the form of two political instruments — the Constitution 
and the Bill of Rights. These were essentially a series of pro- 
hibitions — prohibitions not against the {people but against 
the political arrangement the people, from their Old World 
experience, had learned to fear, namely, over-extended gov- 

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights more severely 
limited government than government had ever before been 
limited. There were benefits that flowed from this limita- 
tion of the state. 

The first benefit, once this new concept became effective, 
was that individuals did not turn to government for secur- 
ity, welfare, or prosperity because government was so lim- 
ited that it had little on hand to dispense; nor did its lim- 

2 The Constitution and the Bill of Rights specify 46 negations of 
governmental actions. 


ited power permit taking from some citizens and giving to 
others. To what or to whom do people turn for security, 
welfare, and prosperity when government is not available 
to them? They turn to where they should turn — to them- 

As a result of this discipline founded on the revolution- 
ary concept that the Creator, not the state, is the endower 
of man's rights, along with these instruments of limitation, 
there was developed, on an unprecedented scale, a quality 
of character that Emerson referred to as "self-reliance." 
The American jjeople gained a world-wide reputation for 
being self-reliant. 

A second benefit that flowed from this severe limitation 
of government: When government is limited to inhibiting 
the destructive actions of men, when it sticks to its sole 
competency of keeping the peace and invoking a common 
justice, which is to say, when it minimizes such unpeaceful 
actions as fraud, violence, predation, misrepresentation 
— when it is thus limited — then there is no organized force 
standing against the f>eaceful, productive, creative actions 
of citizens. As a consequence of this limitation, there was 
a freeing, a releasing of creative energy, on a scale unheard 
of before. 

I repeat, it was this combination which was chiefly re- 
sponsible for the veritable outburst of creative human 
energy and that accounted for the "American miracle." We 
must everlastingly keep in mind that its roots were in the 
revolutionary concept that the Creator, not the state, is the 
endower of man's rights. 

This keeping-the-peace design manifested itself in in- 


dividual freedom of choice as related to all peaceful, pro- 
ductive, creative efforts. Citizens had freedom of choice 
as to how they employed themselves; they had freedom 
of choice as to how they priced their own labor or steel or 
whatever; they had freedom of choice as to what they did 
with their own income. 

This is the American setting — as it was. 

The Situation in America Today 

But let us examine the American setting as it is, a rever- 
sal in form, one might say. It seems that the persons we 
placed in government as our agents of peace discovered a 
weakness in our unique structure. Having acquisitive in- 
stincts for power over others — as indeed so many of us do — 
they found that the police power they had been given to 
keep the peace could be used to invade the p>eaceful, pro- 
ductive, creative areas the citizens had reserved for them- 
selves — one of which was the business sector. And they 
also discovered that if they incurred any deficits by their 
interventions, the same police force could be used to collect 
the wherewithal to pay the bills. The very same force that 
can be used to protect against predation can also be used 

It is this misuse of police force, so little understood, which 
explains why we Americans who inveigh vociferously against 
socialism are unwittingly adopting socialism ourselves. For 
it is clear that the extent to which government has departed 
from the original design of inhibiting the unpeaceful and 
destructive actions; the extent to which government has 


invaded the peaceful, productive, creative areas; the extent 
to which our government has assumed the responsibility 
for the security, welfare, and prosperity of the citizenry is 
a measure of the extent to which socialism — communism, if 
you choose — has developed in this land of ours. 

Can we measure this political devolution? Yes, with near 
precision. Reflect on one of the manifestations of the orig- 
inal structure: each individual having freedom of choice 
as to how he disposes of his own income. Measure the loss 
in this freedom of choice and you measure the gain of so- 
cialism. Merely bear in mind that freedom of choice exists 
except as restraint is interposed. Thus, the loss in freedom 
of choice shows the gain in authoritarian socialism. 

Th« Growth of Government 
Let us, then, proceed with the measurement. About 125 
years ago the average citizen had somewhere between 95 
and 98 per cent freedom of choice with each income dollar; 
which is to say, the tax take of government — federal, state, 
and local — was between 2 and 5 per cent of the people's 
earned income. But, as the emphasis shifted from the orig- 
inal design, as government invaded the peaceful, pro- 
ductive, and creative areas, and as government assumed 
more and more the responsibility for the security, welfare, 
and prosperity of the people, the percentage of the take 
of total earned income increased. The 2 to 5 per cent take 
of a relatively small income has steadily grown to a take 
of approximately 36 per cent of a very large earned in- 
come — and grows apace 1 


Many complacent persons, undaunted by this ominous 
trend, remark: "Why fret about this; we still have remain- 
ing to us, on the average, 64 per cent freedom of choice 
with respect to each income dollar. 

Parenthetically, may I suggest that we use with care the 
term "on the average." Assume a 40-hour week, 8 hours a 
day, Monday through Friday. The average person, today, 
must work all of Monday and until mid-afternoon on Tues- 
day for government before he can begin to work for him- 
self. But, if the individual has been extraordinarily suc- 
cessful, he has to work all of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 
Thursday, and until noon on Friday for the government be- 
fore he can start working for himself. He has only Friday 
afternoon to labor for his freedom-of-choice dollars. This, 
it seems, is a part of the "new" incentive system! 

While we still enjoy 64 per cent freedom of choice over 
our earned income, this should afford little consolation. For 
we've long passed in this country the historical 20 to 25 
per cent tax level beyond which governments seldom have 
gone without resorting to inflation. We are well into the 
inflationary stage, which means that constitutional or in- 
stitutional limits on the taxing power have been aban- 
doned; the government has found a way to take all our 
earned income if and when it chooses to do so. 

Are we inflating? Indeed, yes! Let me explain that by 
"inflation" I do not mean rising prices, a consequence of 
inflation; rather, I mean government's expansion of the 
volume of money. To the economist or mathematician, in- 
flation is the same as counterfeiting; to the lawyer, inflation 
is distinguished from counterfeiting by being legal. But, 


definitions aside, governments always have popular sup- 
port for their inflationary policies; politicians act in re- 
sponse to popular support; they cannot remain in office 
without it. Why the popular support? It is because a major- 
ity of voters are naive enough to believe that they can eat 
their cake and still have their cake left to them, which is to 
say, they can continue to receive handouts and "benefits" 
from government without having to pay for them. Because 
they see no direct tax levy and because they do not under- 
stand that inflation is a cruel, unjust form of taxation, 
they applaud the something which they feel is coming to 
them for nothing. 

Inflationary Devices 

It is interesting to observe the tricks of inflation — polit- 
ical sleight-of-hand, coin clipping, for instance. The sov- 
ereign of old — by police force, that is, unpeacefully — "called 
in" the coin of the realm, clipped the edges, retained the 
clippings, and returned the balance to the owners. This 
skulduggery continued until the coins became too small 
to return. 

The French Revolution put that government in dire 
financial straits, so it issued, in ever-larger amounts, an 
irredeemable psLper money, known as assignats, secured 
not by gold but by confiscated church properties. Every 
American should read and know by heart the catastrophic 

»Sec Fiat Money Inflation in France by Andrew Dickson White 
(Irvington-on-Hudson. N. Y.: Foundation for Economic Education, 
Inc.. 1959), $2.oo cloth; $1.25 paper. 


In Argentina — following Peron and until recently — the 
expense of the national government was, shall we say, loo 
billion pesos annually. But only half that amount could be 
collected by direct tax levies. How handled? Simple! They 
merely printed 50 billion pesos annually. One need not be 
much of an economist to realize that when the money 
volume is expanded, everything else being equal, the value 
of the monetary unit declines; prices rise. Imagine yourself 
"secure" at the time of Per6n's ascendancy to power: bank 
accounts, insurance, social security, a pension for your old 
age. These, along with all forms of fixed income, were po- 
litically rendered more or less worthless. 

Our inflationary scheme in the U.S.A. is brilliant leger- 
demain: it is so complex that hardly anyone can under- 
stand iti We monetize debt; that is, the more the govern- 
ment spends, the more is the money supply expanded. Since 
the start of deficit financing and monetized debt, our quan- 
tity of dollars has enormously increased. Anyone with an 
eye to trends can observe that the dollar has declined in 
value and that prices are on the upswing. 

The Russians, in my judgment, have the most honest 
system of dishonesty: the Kremlin — with guns, if necessary 
— "calls upon" the people to purchase government bonds. 
After the people have bought the bonds, the government 
cancels the bonds. Certainly, one does not have to be an 
economist to observe the chicanery in this method of in- 

Frankly, I wish we were employing the Russian system of 
dishonesty rather than our present complex system. Were we 
inflating in this crude Russian manner, many Americans 


would be aware of what is being done to them. People who 
can't see through shell games are likely to be taken in. 

This is what we must realize: Inflation is the fiscal con- 
comitant of socialism or the welfare state or state interven- 
tionism — call these unp>eaceful, political structures what 
you will. Politically, it isn't f)ossible to finance government 
expenditures by direct tax levies beyond the point at which 
direct tax levies are p>olitically expedient — 20-25 per cent, as 
a rule. The overextended state is always beyond this point. 
Thus, anyone who does not like inflation can do nothing 
about it except as he assists in divesting our economy of 

A good economy, in one respect, is analogous to a sponge; 
it can sop up a lot of mess. But once the sponge is saturated, 
the sponge itself is a mess. The only way to make it useful 
again is to wring the mess out of it. 

Inflation in Modern France 

Inflation may be better understood if we analyze it in 
some country other than our own; it is difficult to see our 
own faults, easy to note the mistakes of others. France 
serves our purpose, for that country, economically, has 
many likenesses to the U.S.A. 

In 1914 — only 50 years ago — modern France began what 
is now underway here; that is, her government invaded 
the peaceful, productive, creative areas and more and more 
assumed the responsibility for the security, welfare, and 
prosperity of the French people: socialism. 

If my previous contentions be correct, the franc should 


have lost some of its purchasing value during these 50 years. 
To repeat, I have contended that socialism can be financed 
only by inflation which is an expansion of money volume 
— with a consequent price rise as money value declines. If 
my reasoning is valid, the franc should have declined in 
purchasing value. Has it? Yes, more than 991/^ per cent! 

In Paris, during World War I, I bought a good dinner 
for 5 francs, the equivalent of a 1918 dollar. On my next 
visit to Paris — 1947 — I took a friend to luncheon, admit- 
tedly a better restaurant than I visited as a soldier boy. 
How much for the two luncheons? 3,400 francs! Two years 
later I took my wife to the same restaurant and had the 
same luncheons, because it is instructive to check prices. 
How much? 4,100 francs! On a recent visit, same restaurant, 
same luncheons — 6,000 francs! 

Visualize a French lad in his early teens, forethoughtful, 
looking to 1964 when he would reach retirement. He bought 
a paid-up annuity, one that would return him 1,000 francs 
per month beginning in 1964. In 1914, the year of purchase, 
he could have lived quite handsomely on this amount. Yet, 
in 1964, the thousand francs will buy no more than a 
skimpy, low-grade meal, pretty poor fare for a whole monthi 
This fictional catastrophe, in no way exaggerated, was 
brought about by an inevitable inflation in the name of 
social security. 

The validity of this line of reasoning is confirmed his- 
torically: Only 35 years ago the take of earned income by 
government in Russia was 29 per cent; in Germany, 22 per 
cent; in England, 21 per cent. Keep in mind that we are now 
at 36 per cent and that our government has the policy of 


increasing expenditures as it reduces taxes, assuring more 
inflation which, of course, increases the take. 

The ''Galloping" Stage 

Inflation, in popular terms, is of two types: "creeping" 
and "galloping." Ours is often described as "creeping," a 
term that appears rather weak to describe a dollar that has 
lost between 52 and 63 per cent of its purchasing value since 
1939 — according to which index one uses. 

"Galloping" inflation is the type that Germany experi- 
enced following World War I and France during her is- 
suance of the assignats. China's money went "galloping" 
not too long ago, and the same can be said for the Latin 
American currencies right now. 

I own one piece of Bolivia's currency — 10,000 Bolivianos, 
In 1935 it had the purchasing power of 4,600 of our 1964 
dollars. What now? Eighty cents! There is galloping infla- 
tion for you and brought about — they had no wars — by 
socialism. In every instance "galloping" inflation has been 
preceded by "creeping" inflation. Not too strangely, infla- 
tion creeps before it gallops; and anyone having a dread 
of inflation should be on the alert whenever it begins to 

Any rational person should dread inflation, more so in 
the U.S.A. than elsewhere, and for self-evident reasons: 
Americans have a more advanced division-of-labor society 
than has heretofore existed; we are more specialized and 
further removed from self-subsistence than peoples of other 
times and places. I, for instance, do not know how to build 


my home, raise my food, make my clothes; with respect to 
most of what I consume, I know next to nothing. Like all 
other Americans — even farmers, for they are mechanized — 
I have become dependent on the free, uninhibited exchange 
of our countless specializations. Try to visualize existing 
on that which you alone produce! 

A necessity is anything on which we have become de- 
pendent. Free, peaceful, unfettered exchange is as neces- 
sary to present-day Americans as is air or water. 

There is, however, a key fact to keep in mind: In a highly 
specialized economy it is not possible to effect these neces- 
sary exchanges by barter. The woman who inspects transis- 
tors makes no attempt to barter the service she renders 
for a pair of shoes; nor do you observe a car owner trying 
to barter a goose for a gallon of gas. 

No, an advanced division-of-labor economy cannot be 
made to function by direct swaps of this for that. Such an 
economy has only one means to effect the necessary ex- 
changes of its numerous specializations: an economic cir- 
culatory system, that is, a medium of exchange — money. 

Thinning the Blood 
This economic circulatory system can be likened, in one 
respect, to the circulatory system of the body, the blood 
stream. Among other functions, the blood stream effects 
numerous exchanges: it picks up oxygen and ingested food, 
carrying these life givers to some 30 trillion cells of the 
body, and, at these trillions of points, it picks up carbon 
dioxide and waste matters, returning these items for dis- 


posal. But let someone insert a hypodermic needle into a 
vein, thin the blood stream — destroy its integrity — and the 
victim can be referred to in the past tense. 

Likewise, one can thin the economic circulatory system 
by inflating — assured by socialism — and bring on the same 
catastrophic results; exchange will be impossible with each 
of us wedded to our specialization but unable to exchange 
our own for the specializations of others. The integrity of 
the medium of exchange has to be presupposed to assume 
that a division-of-labor economy can function for any sus- 
tained period of time. 

To illustrate: Following the 1918 Armistice, my squadron 
was sent to Coblenz in the Army of Occupation. The Ger- 
man inflation was under way. I knew no more about infla- 
tion then than do most of our citizens now. And like many 
people, I enjoyed what I experienced: more marks each 
pay day, but not because of any increase in salary. The gov- 
ernment was taking care of my food, shelter, clothing — 
I had "security." My marks were used mostly to play 
games of chance — the more marks the more fun. Why 
shouldn't I enjoy inflation? 

The German inflation continued with mounting in- 
tensity; by 1923 it reached a point where 30 million marks 
would not buy a loaf of bread. 

About the time I arrived in Coblenz (this is fiction, but 
sound) an elderly German passed on, leaving his fortune 
to his two sons — 500,000 marks each. One was a frugal lad; 
he never spent a pfennig of it. The other was a playboy; he 
spent the whole inheritance on champagne parties. When 
the day came in 1923 that 30 million marks wouldn't buy a 

Propledad dc la Biblicteca 


loaf of bread, the lad who had saved everything, had noth- 
ing. But the other was able to exchange his empty cham- 
pagne bottles for a dinner! The economy had been reduced 
to barter. To fully grasp the present American setting, we 
must be able to see that this very process is gaining mo- 
mentum in our own economy. And primarily because we 
are substituting socialism for the peaceful ways of the free 

At this point it is appropriate to be hardheaded and ask 
a practical question: Has there ever been an instance, his- 
torically, when a country has been on our kind of a so- 
cialistic toboggan and succeeded in reversing herself? There 
was a lo-year turnabout in the city-state of Lagash circa 
2500 B.C., a 2-year reversal in the France of Turgot in the 
eighteenth century and, perhaps, there have been other 
minor cases of such political heroism. But, for the most 
part, the record reads like "the decline and fall of the 
Roman Empire." 

The only significant turnabout known to me took place 
in England following the Napoleonic Wars. The nation's 
debt, in relation to her resources, must have been greater 
than ours now is; the taxation was confiscatory; and the re- 
strictions on the peaceful production and exchange of goods 
and services — along with price controls — were so numerous 
and inhibitory that had it not been for the smugglers, black 
marketeers, and breakers of the law, many would have 
starved.* Altogether, a bleak economic picture, indeedl 
Here, assuredly, was a setting worse than ours yet is. 

4 When the law runs amuck, lawlessness often ensues. 


Something happened, unique in history; and it is well 
that we Uke cognizance of it. One thing for certain, the 
change was wrought by a handful of men. We have a good 
account of the work of Richard Cobden and John Bright in 
England and of their two French collaborators, a politician 
named Chevalier, and the political economist and essayist, 
Frederic Bastiat. Cobden and Bright, having a far better 
understanding of freedom-in-exchange principles than their 
contemporaries, went about England speaking and writing 
on the freedom philosophy. The economy was out of kilter; 
Members of Parliament listened and, as a consequence, there 
began the greatest reform movement in English history. 

The reform consisted of the repeal of restrictive law; the 
peaceful ways of the market were made possible by the re- 
moval of unpeaceful governmental interventionism. The 
Corn Laws (tariffs) were repealed outright; the Poor Laws 
(relief) were greatly curtailed; there were numerous other 
ref>eals. And, fortunately for the people, their newly limited 
government, nominally headed by Queen Victoria, relaxed 
the authority which the people themselves believed to be 
implicit in their Sovereign; the government gave the peo- 
ple freedom in the sense that a prisoner on parole is free: 
he can be yanked back! But the government exercised no 
such control; Englishmen by the hundreds of thousands 
roamed over the face of the earth achieving unparalleled 
prosperity and building a relatively enlightened empire. 

This development continued until just before World War 
I when the same old political disease set in again. What pre- 
cisely is this disease that must result in inflation and other 
unpeaceful manifestations? It has many popular names. 


some already mentioned, such as socialism, communism, 
the welfare state, government interventionism, authori- 
tarianism. It has other names such as fascism, nazism, 
Fabianism, the planned economy. It has local names like 
New Deal, Fair Deal, New Republicanism, New Frontier; 
and new ones will be contrived to suggest that the identical 
political arrangement has something novel about it. 

Faith in Government intervention 

However, popular names are but generalizations and 
oversimplifications. What, then, is really the essence of the 
above-mentioned "progressive ideologies"? Careful scrutiny 
of their avowed aims will reveal that each has a character- 
istic common to the others, this characteristic being the 
cell in the body politic that has the capacity for inordinate 
growth and from which stems our countless unpeaceful 
troubles. It is in the form of a belief — a rapidly growing 
belief — in the use of organized police force (government) 
not with the emphasis on keeping the {>eace but on a p>olit- 
ical manipulation of the peaceful, productive, creative ac- 
tivities of the citizenry. An increased intervention in all 
markets — commodities, exchange, finance, education, hous- 
ing, or whatever — is what the proponents of this multi- 
named system set forth as their promise. I am only repeat- 
ing the claim they present with pride; check it out for 

To illustrate: I can remember the time when, if a house 
were wanted, the customer would look to the free market 
to supply it. The first step involved someone wanting a 


house in preference to other alternatives; the initiative 
rested with the desiring consumer. Next, the reliance was 
on those who wished to compete in the building. Last, we 
relied on people who thought they saw some advantage 
to themselves in loaning the money for the tools, labor, 
and material. With our reliance on the peaceful procedures 
of the market, we built more square feet of housing per 
person than was ever built in any other country at any 
other time. 

Yet, despite this remarkable accomplishment, more and 
more jjeople are coming to believe that the free market 
should be shelved and that, in its stead, government should 
use its police force to take the income of some and give it, 
in the form of housing, to the government's idea of the 
needy. In other words, we are now practicing the principle 
used by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620-23, and proclaimed as 
an ideal by Karl Marx in 1848: "from each according to 
his abilities, to each according to his needs," and by the 
use of organized f>olice forcel (Keep in mind that I have 
used housing only as an example; the same policy is being 
extended to all segments of the economy.) 

Here is a crucial, important, and self-evident fact: With 
increasing belief in police force as a means to productive 
ends, the belief in men acting freely, competitively, co- 
operatively, privately, voluntarily must correspondingly 
diminish. As a reliance on political authoritarianism ad- 
vances, a faith in free men suffers erosion and, finally, ob- 

It would seem to follow that there is no remedy for our 
current devolution except as a faith in free men be re- 


Stored. The evolution of such a faith, I suspect, will rest 
as much on an unbelief in authoritarianism as on a belief 
of what can be wrought by voluntarism. I propose to share 
and explain my unqualified skepticism of political rigging 
as well as my faith in the creativity and miraculous per- 
formances of free men in an unfettered, peaceful market. 
So much for the American setting — past and present! 

• CHAPTER 3 • 


Broadly speaking, there are two opposing philosophies of 
human relationships. One commends that these relation- 
ships be in terms of peace and harmony. The other, while 
never overtly commended, operates by way of strife and 
violence. One is peaceful; the other unpeaceful. 

When f>eace and harmony are adhered to, only willing 
exchange exists in the market place — the economics of 
reciprocity and practice of the Golden Rule. No special 
privilege is countenanced. All men are equal before the 
law, as before God. The life and the livelihood of a minor- 
ity of one enjoys the same respect as the lives and liveli- 
hoods of majorities, for such rights are, as set forth in the 
Declaration of Independence, conceived to be an endow- 
ment of the Creator. Everyone is completely free to act 
creatively as his abilities and ambitions permit; no re- 
straint in this respect — none whatsoever. 

Abandon the ideal of peace and harmony and the only 
alternative is to embrace strife and violence, expressed 
ultimately as robbery and murder. Plunder, spoliation, 



special privilege, feathering one's own nest at the expense 
of others, doing one's own brand of good with the fruits 
of the labor of others — coercive, destructive, and unpeace- 
ful schemes of all sorts — fall within the order of strife 
and violence. 

Are we abandoning the ideal of peace and harmony and 
drifting into the practice of strife and violence as a way of 
life? That's the question to be examined in this chapter 
— and answered in the affirmative. 

At the outset, it is well to ask why so few people are 
seriously concerned about this trend. William James may 
have suggested the reason: "Now, there is a striking law 
over which few people seem to have pondered. It is this: 
That among all the differences which exist, the only ones 
that interest us strongly are those we do not take for 

Socialistic practices are now so ingrained in our think- 
ing, so customary, so much a part of our mores, that we 
take them for granted. No longer do we p)onder them; no 
longer do we even suspect that they are founded on strife 
and violence. Once a socialistic practice has been Ameri- 
canized it becomes a member of the family so to speak and, 
as a consequence, is rarely suspected of any violent or evil 
taint. With so much socialism now taken for granted, we 
are inclined to think that only other countries condone and 
practice strife and violence — not us. 

Who, for instance, ever thinks of TVA as founded on 
strife and violence? Or social security, federal urban re- 

1 See The Will to Believe and Other Essays on Popular Philosophy 
(New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1956), p. 257. I1.65. 


newal, public housing, foreign aid, farm and all other 
subsidies, the Post Office, rent control, other wage and 
price controls, all space projects other than for strictly de- 
fensive purjx>ses, compulsory unionism, production con- 
trols, tariffs, and all other governmental protections against 
comjjetition? Who ponders the fact that every one of these 
asf>ects of state socialism is an exemplification of strife and 
violence and that such practices are multiplying rapidly? 

The word "violence," as here used, refers to a particular 
kind of force. Customarily, the word is applied indiscrim- 
inately to two distinct kinds of force, each as different from 
the other as an olive branch differs from a gun. One is de- 
fensive or repellent force. The other is initiated or aggres- 
sive force. If someone were to initiate such an action as 
flying at you with a dagger, that would be an example of 
aggressive force. It is this kind of force I call strife or 
violence. The force you would employ to repel the violence 
I would call defensive force. 

Try to think of a single instance where aggressive force 
— strife or violence — is morally warranted. There is none. 
Violence is morally insupportable! 

Defensive force is never an initial action. It comes into 
play only secondarily, that is, as the antidote to aggres- 
sive force or violence. Any individual has a moral right to 
defend his life, the fruits of his labor (that which sustains 
his life) , and his liberty— by demeanor, by persuasion, or 
with a club if necessary. Defensive force is morally war- 

Moral rights are exclusively the attributes of individ- 
uals. They inhere in no collective, governmental or other- 


wise. Thus, political officialdom, in sound theory, can have 
no rights of action which do not pre-exist as rights in the 
individuals who organize government. To argue contrarily 
is to construct a theory no more tenable than the Divine 
Right of Kings. For, if the right to government action 
does not originate with the organizers of said government, 
from whence does it come? 

As the individual has the moral right to defend his life 
and property — a right common to all individuals, a uni- 
versal right — he is within his rights to delegate this right 
of defense to a societal organization. We have here the 
logical prescription for government's limitation. It {per- 
forms morally when it carries out the individual moral 
right of defense. 

As the individual has no moral right to use aggressive 
force against another or others — a moral limitation com- 
mon to all individuals — it follows that he cannot delegate 
that which he does not possess. Thus, his societal organ- 
ization — government — has no moral right to aggress against 
another or others. To do so would be to employ strife or 

To repeat a point in the previous chapter, it is necessary 
to recognize that man's energies manifest themselves either 
destructively or creatively, f>eacefully or violently. It is the 
function of government to inhibit and to penalize the de- 
structive or violent manifestations of human energy. It is 
a malfunction to inhibit, to penalize, to interfere in any 
way whatsoever with the peaceful or creative or productive 
manifestations of human energy. To do so is clearly to ag- 
gress, that is, to take violent action. 


TVA Analyzed 

In the light of these definitions, let us then consider the 
nature and impact of TVA or any of the other socialistic 
projecu earlier mentioned. We may assume that you are 
living peaceably off the fruits of your own labor, including 
anything which you have acquired from others in willing 
exchange. You are aggressing against no one; therefore, 
there is no occasion for anyone's use of defensive force 
against you, defense being a secondary action against an 
initiated aggressive action. And, certainly, there is no moral 
sanction for anyone or any organization to take aggressive 
action against you. 

Now, let us suppose that some people decide they want 
their |X)wer and light at a price lower than the market 
rate. To accomplish their purpose, they forcibly (with 
weapons, if necessary) collect the fruits of your peaceable 
labor in the form of capital to construct the power plant. 
Then they annually use force to take your income to de- 
fray the deficits of their ojjeration — deficits incurred by rea- 
son of the sub-market rates they charge themselves for the 
power and light they use. The questions I wish to pose are 
these: Is any set of persons, regardless of how economically 
strapped they may be, morally warranted in any such ac- 
tion? Would not their project be founded on strife or vio- 
lence? The answers to these questions are inescapably clear: 
such f>ersons are thieves and criminals. 

Very well. Move on to TVA. What distinguishes TVA 
from the above? Not a thing, except that in the case of 
TVA the immoral, aggressive, violent action has been le- 
galized. This merely means that the law has been perverted 


SO as to exonerate the "beneficiaries" from the customary 
penalties for criminal action. But the fact remains that 
TVA, and all other instances of state socialism, are founded 
on strife and violence I 

Most people are inclined to scoff at this idea simply be- 
cause they have never witnessed any instance of actual vio- 
lence associated with TVA. They are blinded to what 
really takes place by the common acquiescence to socialis- 
tic measures, once these forms of Robin Hoodism are le- 
galized. Everybody goes along. But wait! 

Should not any conscionable citizen pause for reflection 
when he awakens to the fact that the people of his country 
are abandoning the ideal of peace and harmony and drift- 
ing into the practice of strife and violence as a way of 
life? The fact that this catastrophic change is taking place 
without many persons being aware of it is all the more 
reason to sound the alarm. 

Founded on Violonco 
It is easy to demonstrate that all state socialism, of which 
TVA is but an instance, is founded on violence. Take the 
government's program of paying farmers not to grow to- 
bacco, for example. Let us say that your share of the 
burden of this socialistic hocus-f>ocus is I50. Should you 
absolutely refuse to pay it, assuming you had I50 in assets, 
you would be killed — legally, of course — here in the U.S.A. 
in the year of Our Lord, 1964 1 If that isn't resting the sub- 
sidy program on violence, then, pray tell, what is vio- 


Here's how to get yourself killed: When you get your 
bill from the Internal Revenue Service, remit the amount 
minus S50 with these words of explanation: 

"/ do not believe that citizens should be compelled to pay 
farmers for not growing tobacco. I do not believe in the farm 
subsidy program. My share of the cost of the whole program 
is f$o, which I have deducted. Do not try to collect for 1 
ABSOLUTELY refuse to pay for same." 

The IRS will quickly inform you that this is a matter in 
which freedom of choice does not exist and will demand 
that you remit the $50. 

You respond by merely referring the IRS to your original 
letter, calling attention to your use of the word "ab- 

When the IRS becomes convinced that you mean busi- 
ness, your case will be referred to another branch of the 
government, the judicial apparatus. It being the function 
of the judiciary only to interpret the law, the law making 
it plain that a government claim has first lien on one's 
assets, a decision will be rendered against you and in favor 
of the IRS. If you have no assets but your home, the Court 
will order it put on the auction block and will instruct 
you to vacate. 

At this point you will apprise the Court of your letter to 
the IRS and your use of the word ''absolutely." 

When the Court becomes convinced that you mean busi- 
ness, your case will be referred to still another branch of 
the government, the constabulary. In due course, a couple 
of officers carrying arms will attempt to carry out the 
Court's instructions. They will confront you in person. 


But to accede to their "invitation" to vacate would be to 
pay. With your "absolutely" in mind, you refuse. At this 
point the officers in their attempt to carry out the Court's 
orders will try to carry you off your property, as peaceably 
as possible, of course. But to let them carry you off would 
be to acquiesce and to pay. You might as well have ac- 
quiesced in the first place. At this stage of the proceed- 
ings, in order not to pay, you have no recourse but to re- 
sist physical force with physical force. It is reasonable to 
assume that from this point on you will be mentioned only 
in the past tense or as "the late Mr. You." The records will 
show that your demise was "for resisting an officer," but 
the real reason was that you absolutely refused to pay farm- 
ers for not growing tobacco or whatever. 

Rarely will any citizen go this far. Most of us, regardless 
of our beliefs, acquiesce immediately on receipt of the bill 
from the IRS. But the reason we do so is our recognition 
of the fact that this is an area in which freedom of choice 
no longer exists. I, for instance, would never give a cent of 
my income to farmers not to grow tobacco were I allowed 
freedom of choice in the matter. But, realizing that the 
farm subsidy program rests on violence, it takes no more 
than the threat of violence to make me turn part of my 
income over to farmers for not growing tobacco. 

The Case of Mr. ByUr 
This idea that the whole wearisome list of socialistic 
practices rests on strife and violence and that the ultimate 
penalty for noncompliance is death, was written and pub- 


lished in 1950.* Many have read the booklet and an ex- 
planation of the same idea has been given before many 
discussion groups throughout the country, but the reason- 
ing has never been challenged. Yet, I am unaware of any 
instance where an individual has gone all the way, that is, 
has absolutely refused to pay and gone to his death for 
his beliefs. One farmer went so far as to leave the coun- 
try, and quite a number of citizens have delayed their 
acquiescence considerably, that is, they have carried their 
revolt beyond immediate payment — usually mixed with 
grousing. One of the most interesting and instructive 
examples is reported by the IRS in a news release dated 
May 15, 1961: 

Considerable public and press misunderstanding exists over 
the seizure of three horses from a Pittsburgh area Amish farm- 
er who refused to pay Social Security taxes because of re- 
ligious convictions. 

This memo is designed merely to acquaint you with all the 
facts in the case. 

Public Law 761, 83rd Congress, effective January 1, 1955, ex- 
tended Social Security coverage so as to include farm operators. 
A tax on the self-employment income of these people is im- 
posed and they are required to report this tax on their annual 
federal income tax return. 

The Old Order Amish are the most conservative of the 
Amish groups and have taken the position that although they 
will comply with taxes, as such, Social Security payments, in 
their opinion, are insurance premiums and not taxes. They, 
therefore, will not pay the "premium" nor accept any of the 

In the fall of 1956, the IRS district director at Cleveland 

s See my Students of Liberty (Irvington-on-Hudson, N. Y.: Founda- 
tion for Economic Education, Inc., 1950), pp. 7-8. 50^ paper. 


held meetings with Amish farmers and their church officials 
in an effort to solicit cooperation and voluntary compliance 
with the laws we have to administer. At these meetings, it was 
explained that the self-employment levy is a tax and that it 
would be the responsibility of IRS to enforce this tax. 

As a result of these meetings and of letters sent to the in- 
dividuals involved, the majority of Amish farmers in that gen- 
eral area voluntarily remitted the tax. With respect to those 
who refused, it became apparent that some did not wish to 
contravene the dictates of their church, but they also did not 
want "trouble" with IRS. 

Thus, a portion of these farmers did not pay the tax, but 
did make the execution of liens possible by maintaining bank 
accounts which covered the tax. 

The current problem stems from the "hard core" group of 
Old Order Amish farmers who closed out their bank accounts 
and made such levy action impossible. As a result, the IRS 
was forced to collect 130 delinquent taxpayer accounts from 
Amish farmers in the past two years. 

Valentine Y. Byler of New Wilmington, Pennsylvania be- 
came the latest collection problem among the Old Order 
Amish. He owed the following self-employment tax: 

1956 $82.60 

1957 76-57 

1958 32-98 

1959 65-63 

The foregoing taxes amounted to $257.78. The total interest 
for the same period was $51.18, making a grand total of 
$308.96 owed by the taxpayer. 

Attempts had been made since 1956 to induce Mr. Byler 
to pay his tax willingly, but with no success. Since Mr. Byler 
had no bank account against which to levy for the tax due, it 
was decided as a last desperate measure to resort to seizure 
and sale of personal property. 

It then was determined that Mr. Byler had a total of six 
horses, so it was decided to seize three in order to satisfy the 
tax indebtedness. The three horses were sold May 1, 1961, at 


public auction for $460. Of this amount $308.96 represented 
the ux due, and $113.15 represented expenses of the auction 
sale including feed for the horses, leaving a surplus of $37.80 
which was returned to the taxpayer. 

The Byler case like all others in the same category presents 
an unpleasant and difficult task for the Internal Revenue Ser- 
vice. However, there is no authority under which Amish farm- 
ers may be relieved of liability for this tax. 

With respect to those who remain adamant in their refusal 
to pay, as in the case of any person who refuses to pay any 
federal tax that is lawfully due, it is incumbent on the Internal 
Revenue Service to proceed with collection enforcement action 
as provided by law. 

We have no other choice under the law. 

Had our Amish friend, Valentine Y. Byler, not ac- 
quiesced at the point he did but had gone all the way 
in his determination, he would have employed physical 
force against the officers who seized his three horses. In 
this event he would now be known as "the late Valentine 
Y. Byler." He would have established beyond a shadow of 
doubt that the Social Security program, as well as all other 
socialistic practices, is founded on strife and violence. 
These cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, come 
under the category of "peaceful actions." 

Government Did Its Duty 
It is important to acknowledge at this point that the IRS 
did precisely what it should have done. This agency of 
government is not in the business of deciding the Tight- 
ness or wrongness of a tax. Its job is to collect regardless 
of what the tax is for. 


The judiciary, having previously ruled on the powers of 
the IRS to make such collections, accurately interpreted 
the law and, thus, did what it should have done. 

The constabulary, in seizing the three horses, was prop- 
erly performing its function. This agency, unless derelict 
in its duty, has to look as indifferently on seizing the horses 
and harnesses of a gentle. God-fearing farmer as bring- 
ing a John Dillinger to bay. They are properly called law 
enforcement officers. And, had Mr. Byler resisted with phy- 
sical force, the constabulary would have been jjerforming 
its duty had it been found necessary to put Mr. Byler out 
of the way — as it did Dillinger. Theirs is to carry out the 
law, not to reason why! 

The fault here is with the law, the three above-mentioned 
agencies being but effectuating arms of the law. And the 
fault with the law rests with those who make the law and 
with those of us who elect lawmakers and who, presumably, 
have some powers to reason what the law should be. 

The IRS, the judiciary, the constabulary, behave exactly 
the same when seizing the Amish farmer's three horses as 
when collecting a fine for embezzlement. Yet, the former 
is an exercise of aggressive force — violence — while the lat- 
ter is an exercise of defensive force. The former has no 
moral sanction; the latter is morally warranted. How can 
two police actions which ultimately manifest themselves 
in an identical manner actually be opposites? This is like 
asking how two shots from a pistol can be identical when 
one is used to protect life and property and the other is 
used to take life and property. The shots are wholly in- 
different as to how they are used. The pistol shots, like 


the IRS, the judiciary, the constabulary, only do the bid- 
ding of someone's mind and will. It is the bidding which 
determines whether they are part of a defensive or an ag- 
gressive action. The law, and the people who are respon- 
sible for it, determine whether a police action is defen- 
sive or violent, whether it keeps the peace or acts un- 

There is, however, a simple way to decide whether a gov- 
ernmental action is an exercise of defensive force or an ex- 
ercise of aggressive or violent force: "See if the law takes 
from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to 
other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law 
benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing 
what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a 

Using the above as a basis for determination, it is obvious 
that every act of state socialism is founded on violence. 
There are no exceptions. 

"But W« Didn't Mean This" 
The fact that the IRS found it expedient to make a 
public explanation in the face of severe criticism through- 
out the country, merely lends credence to the fact that 
most f>eople — even those who supp>ort socialistic legislation 
—do not know what they are doing nor did they mean to 
do what they did. Simply because most of us meekly ac- 
quiesce, that is, uncomplainingly go along with the machin- 

»Scc The Law by Frederic Bastiat (Irvington-on-Hudson, N. Y., 
Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., 1950), 76 pp. $1.00 paper; 
1 1. 75 cloth. 


ery of socialism, we tend to lose sight of the fact that it is 
founded on strife and violence. The seizing of the Amish 
farmer's horses generated widespread feelings of remorse 
and resentment. Had he absolutely refused to pay and been 
killed in the process, the American people would have pro- 
tested, "But we didn't mean this!" 

Of course they didn't mean it. Nonetheless, these pro- 
jections of property-seizure and even death are nothing more 
nor less than the inevitable consequences of admitting the 
socialistic premise into American policy. We need, now and 
then, to check our premises. 

Alexander Barmine and Victor Kravchenko, both of 
whom rose to top posts in the Kremlin hierarchy, escaped 
from Russia and came to this country because they could 
not stomach the purgings and shootings that logically fol- 
lowed the policies which they themselves had a hand in 
promoting.* Let the principle of violence continue in this 
country — even fail to rid ourselves of what we already 
have — and gangsters only will come to occupy high politi- 
cal office. Few of the present crop of bureaucrats are heart- 
less enough to administer socialism in its advanced stages.' 
Violence is not their dish. The IRS folks demonstrate this. 

That policies founded on strife and violence are grow- 
ing is evident enough to anyone who will take the pains 

4 See One Who Survived by Alexander Barmine (New York: G. A. 
Putnam's Sons), and / Chose Freedom by Victor Kravchenko (New 
York: Scribners, 1946). 

5 To understand why gangsters rather than humane human beings 
must occupy political office in a socialistic state, read "Why the Worst 
Get on Top" in F. A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom (Chicago: Uni- 
versity of Chicago Press, 1944). Obtainable from the Foundation for 
Economic Education, Inc., Irvington-on-Hudson, N. Y. 1 1.50 paper. 


to look. Reflect on the examples of practices founded on 
violence cited earlier in this chapter. All but the Post Of- 
fice are of relatively recent vintage, with increasing clamor 
for more of the same. 

I can still remember when the income of farmers came 
from willing exchange; when people lived in houses built 
with the fruits of their own labor; when wage earners, 
for the most part, were no more compelled to join unions 
than businessmen are now forced into chamber of com- 
merce membership or parents into the P.T.A. In those 
days, "peaceful" far better described the way of life than 
did strife and violence. 

Man either accepts the idea that the Creator is the en- 
dower of rights, or he submits to the idea that the state is 
the endower of rights. I can think of no other alternative. 

Those who accept the Creator concept can never sub- 
scribe to the practice of violence in any form. They have 
been drawn to this concept, not coerced into it. If we 
would emulate, as nearly as we can, that which we have 
learned from this relationship, we would confine ourselves 
to this same drawing power. As Gerald Heard so clearly 
puts it, "Man is free to torture himself until he sees that 
his methods are not those of his Maker."^ 

• Gerald Heard, editor, Prayers and Meditations (New York: Harper 
& Brothers. 1949). p. 39. 

• CHAPTER 4 • 


Socialism depends upon and presupposes material achieve- 
ments which socialism itself can never create. Socialism is 
operative only in wealth situations brought about by modes 
of production other than its own. Socialism takes and re- 
distributes wealth, but it is utterly incapable of creating 

Few Americans today would object were this devastating 
indictment leveled against communism. But to accuse the 
U.S.A. brand of democratic socialism of barrenness or ster- 
ility is to put the shoe on another foot. Are you actually 
implying, many will ask, that a vast majority of Americans 
are rapidly committing themselves to a will-o'-the-wisp? 
Eating the seed corn? Sponsoring parasitism? Yes, this is 
the charge, and I shall do my best to demonstrate its 

Socializing the means of production and socializing the 

1 This chapter refers only to the creative sterility of socialism, its 
unproductivity. But even if socialism were the most productive of 
all economic systems, it would not meet with my approval. Socialism 
de-emphasizes self-responsibility and, thus, is contrary to my major 
premise which is founded on the emergence of the individual. 



results of production are but two sides of the same coin, 
inseparable in practice. The state that controls production 
is going to control the distribution of what is produced; 
and the state that distributes the product must, eventually, 
control production. 

That inescapable fact is just as true in the United States, 
with its democratic socialism, as it is in Russia with its 
dictatorial socialism. In our own country, when we refer 
to the "planned economy," we mean that wages, hours, 
prices, production, and exchange shall be largely deter- 
mined by state directives — and not by free response to 
market decisions. Though our "welfare state" policies are 
currently more humane than their counterparts in Rus- 
sia, socialism in both nations, whether having to do with 
the means or the results of production, rests on organized 
police force. 

Socialism is more than a some-other-country folly. It de- 
mands a hard look at what our own American mirror re- 
veals. My purpose is self-analysis, not a discourse on the 
political antics of power-drunk Russians. 

Now to return to my opening assumption: Socialism 
depends upon and presupposes material achievements which 
socialism itself can never create. 

This indictment has two parts: (i) there has to be 
wealth before wealth can be socialized; and (2) socialism 
cannot create the wealth in the first place. 

With everyone's wealth at zero, there is no one from 
whom anything can be taken. Many of our Pilgrim Fathers 
starved during the first three years of community com- 
munism because there was so litde in the warehouse to 


dole out. Communism — or one of our numerous names 
for the same thing, the welfare state — presupposes the ex- 
istence of wealth which can be forcibly extorted. Is this not 

There remains, then, only to show that socialism — the 
planned economy side of the coin — cannot give rise to the 
means of production; that is, state ownership and control 
of the means of production cannot create the wealth on 
which state welfarism rests. 

The Pilgrims' warehouse was empty because the com- 
munistic mode of production couldn't fill it. The standard 
of living of the Russian people is so much lower today 
than our own because their avowed but not wholly prac- 
ticed system is productively sterile.* Such goods as the Pil- 
grims did produce during their first three years, or as the 
Russians now produce, can be explained only as the result 
of deviations from socialism: leakages of free, creative 
human energies! Had the Pilgrims practiced socialism 100 
per cent, all the Pilgrims would have perished. Were the 
Russians practicing socialism 100 per cent, there would 
not be a living Russian. Life goes on in these and all other 

2 While state planning of the economy, and the coercive implementa- 
tion of the state's plans are more widely practiced in Russia than per- 
haps any other country except China, we must remember that the 
Kremlin is more and more disregarding its own tenets and edging 
gradually toward the practice of a market economy. Incentives to in- 
duce production are on the increase, and a significant acreage has l>een 
restored to a free market type of farming. What a picture: Russians 
damning capitalism as they drift into capitalistic practices, and Amer- 
icans damning communism as they drift nito communistic ways of life! 
Russians are so impoverished that they must turn to capitalistic reali- 
ties; Americans are so affluent that they indulge themselves, at their 
peril, in communistic nonsense. 


socialistically-inclined societies because their inhabitants 
do not practice the socialistic theory totally! If I can demon- 
strate this point, my original indictment becomes unas- 

Plato's Definition of Socialism 
What actually is meant by total socialism? As a hint, 
here is a statement by Plato: 

The greatest principle of all is that nobody, whether male 
or female, should be without a leader. Nor should the mind of 
anybody be habituated to letting him do anything at all on 
his own initiative; neither out of zeal, nor even playfully. But 
in war and in the midst of peace — to his leader he shall direct 
his eye and follow him faithfully. And even in the smallest 
matter he should stand under leadership. For example, he 
should get up, or move, or wash, or take his meals . . . only if 
he has been told to do so. In a word, he should teach his 
soul, by long habit, never to dream of acting independently, 
and to become utterly incapable of it.^ 

The above quotation, however, does not describe social- 
ism. It only outlines the extent to which an individual 
might become a selfless nonentity, willingly subserving a 
leader, dog fashion. If socialism were total, this recom- 
mended subservience would be brought about not by volun- 
tary adoption but involuntarily, and by a master's coercion. 
In short, total socialism means the total elimination of all 
volitional actions; it means people in the role of robots. 
Freedom of choice on any matter would be nonexistent. 
Coercion is of its essence. 

8 Karl R. Popper. The Open Society and Its Enemies (Princeton: 
Princeton University Press, 1950), p. 9. 


Now, consider the nature of coercive force. What can it 
do and what are its limitations? This is to ask what can be 
done by and what are the limitations of a gun, a billy club, 
a clenched fist. Clearly, they can inhibit, restrain, penalize, 
destroy. These are the identical possibilities and limitations 
of law or decree backed by force. Nothing morel Law and 
decree cannot serve as a creative force, any more than can 
a gun. 

Coercively directed action can create nothing. Consider 
the driving of an automobile. No person would be a safe 
driver if he had to think his way through each act of steer- 
ing, accelerating, or braking. Add the time it takes for 
numerous decisions to travel from the brain to the hands 
and feet, and it becomes plain that if drivers operated this 
way, one wreck would follow another. Any person who 
knows how to drive has succeeded in relegating driving's 
countless motions to the control of something akin to the 
autonomic nervous system. To know requires that one's 
responses become as automatic as breathing or writing; 
that is, become conditioned reflexes. 

Now, consider a situation in which the relationship be- 
tween decision and action is greatly complicated: a gunman 
in the back seat employing his thinking to command even 
the minutest actions of the driver. There could be no driv- 
ing at all! 

No driving at all? None whatsoever! Try an exf)eriment: 
A coat hangs over the back of a chair. Find a person intel- 
ligent enough to dismiss absolutely all his knowledge of a 
coat, and capable of refraining from any and all volitional 
action, one who can force himself to be utterly incapable of 


independent, volitional response. In this situation, instruct 
him how to don the coat. He'll never get it on. 

The above explanations and assertions, however, have to 
do only with the first essential of creative action, that is, 
volitional action. That coercion cannot induce even this is 
a fact that appears to be self-evident. 

Production in Spite of Controls 

Socialism, we must admit, gives the illusion of being 
productive. The productivity, however, exists in spite of 
socialism, not because of it. The productivity originates in 
the free, creative energy which ignores or escapes social- 
ism's repression; that is, which oozes through or around so- 
cialism's smothering blanket. In England, following the 
Napoleonic Wars, and in the U.S.A. under the NRA and 
OPA, legal restrictions blanketed large areas of production 
and exchange. But note this: neither country's socialistic 
decrees were entirely obeyed. In each instance there were 
gross violations of socialism, with the result that the peo- 
ple managed to live. Such material well-being as there was 
appeared to come from socialism. It actually came, how- 
ever, from free, creative energy which, for obvious reasons, 
was more or less unpublicized. 

Numerous other distractions help to hide socialism's es- 
sential sterility. For instance, we observe that many govern- 
ment schoolteachers act no less creatively than do teachers 
of private schools. Scientists in the employ of government 
have inventive experiences, as do independent scientists 
and those in corporate employ. TVA, a socialistic enter- 


prise, produces electrical energy of the same quality as that 
from an investor-owned plant. Agents of the state and 
private citizens more or less look alike, dress alike, behave 
alike. We choose our friends as often from one set as from 
the other. Meeting a stranger, one could not tell from 
appearance only to which category he belongs. 

If we would properly evaluate the effect of coercion, with 
its total absence of creativeness, we should have to dis- 
regard these distractions. We need to recognize that it is not 
the government schoolteacher who exercises the three types 
of coercion implicit in socialistic education: (i) compul- 
sory attendance, (2) government dictated curricula, and 
(3) the forcible collection of the wherewithal to pay the 
bills. Furthermore, we rarely feel any coercions simply be- 
cause we meekly obey the laws backed by force; that is, 
we do send our children to school, we do not prescribe 
our own curricula, we do pay the tax bill. But refuse to 
acquiesce in any one of these three phases of compulsion 
and see what happens! 

The scientist employed by the state, trying to figure 
out how to put three men on the moon, exercises no coer- 
cion. The coercion is applied to the collection of the funds 
which pay him to work as a free agent. He will work just 
as freely, as creatively, regardless of how his salary is col- 
lected. A billion dollars, whether garnered at the p>oint of a 
gun or voluntarily donated, is in either case a billion dol- 
lars. A dollar extorted or a dollar freely given is still a dol- 
lar, with a dollar's purchasing power. 

In the absence of socialism's coercion, each dollar would 
be used in accord with its owner's choice, to buy food or 


clothing, to educate the children, to take a vacation, to buy 
a sailboat. Coercion only diverts the dollars from owner 
use and puts them to state use. If, as predicted, putting 
three men on the moon will cost $20 billion to $40 billion, 
then that much freedom of choice will be destroyed. This 
enormous f>ortion of our productivity will be socialized. 
The people are coercively relieved of their individual 
choices in order to f>ermit a single choice, exercised by who- 
ever heads the socialistic regime. Authoritarianism is forc- 
ibly substituted for individual liberty. What we witness here 
is a diversionary process accomplished by police action. 

We will go astray in our analysis of this complex process 
unless we examine coercion at one of its points of impact 
— for instance, the impact on the citizens who are forced 
to foot the bills. So, ask yourself this question: Is the ex- 
tortion of your income (in order that another may have 
the say-so as to what it will be spent for) a creative act? 
Does it make any difference to what use the other will put 
it? Charity, relief, moon shots, or whatever? Does it make 
any real difference whether or not the other is a person or a 
collective? There is no rational, affirmative answer to these 
questions. Extortion — coercion— is destructive. It destroys 
your freedom of choice! Coercion, by its nature, is de- 

Let's draw an illustrative distinction between the coer- 
cive act and the creative act. A slap in the face (or the 
threat thereof) is a mild example of coercion. It is milder 
than the penalty for absolutely refusing to pay one's tax 
for a federal urban renewal project in somebody else's 


Now, to illustrate a creative experience: The medical 
student examined the slide in his microscope, but the 
culture he had been instructed to develop had failed to 
grow. Thousands of medical students had experienced that 
identical failure. But this student, observing that mold 
surrounded the hoped-for culture, had a flash thought: Is 
the mold, perhaps, antagonistic to the development of this 
culture? It was, and this experience led to the discovery of 

Contrast the results of a slap in the face and the flash 
thought, and the distinction between coercive and creative 
actions is clear. 

A Spiritual Phenomenon 
That socialism, founded on coercion, cannot bring about 
the production which socialized distribution presupp>oses, is 
plainly evident once we understand the genesis of all pro- 
duction. Ralph Waldo Trine put it plainly: 

Everything is first worked out in the unseen before it is 
manifested in the seen, in the ideal before it is realized in the 
real, in the spiritual before it shows forth in the material. 
The realm of the unseen is the realm of cause. The realm of 
the seen is the realm of effect. The nature of effect is always 
determined and conditioned by the nature of its cause.^ 

Professor Ludwig von Mises, noted free market econo- 
mist, supports this view: 

Production is a spiritual, intellectual, and ideological phe- 
nomenon. It is the method that man, directed by reason, em- 
ploys for the best possible removal of uneasiness. What dis- 

4 From In Tune with the Infinite (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill 
Co., 1897). 


tinguishes our conditions from those of our ancestors who 
lived one thousand or twenty thousand years ago is not some- 
thing material, but something spiritual. The material changes 
are the outcome of the spiritual changes.^ 

Just imagine how antagonistic is a slap in the face, or 
the threat of death or imprisonment to those spiritual ex- 
periences which precede manufacture: insight, intuition, in- 
ventiveness, cognition. 

The fact that creative action can and does take place 
even when financed by funds coercively collected does not 
in any way modify my assertion that coercive action is de- 
structive, not creative. The Kremlin's master destroys free- 
dom of choice on a big scale. Russians may not choose how 
the fruits of their labor are to be expended. Mr. Big does 
the choosing in their stead. He chooses to use much of the 
income thus extorted — socialized — for sputniks and other 
military hardware. 

We now come to the most important point in this thesis: 
True, Mr. Big or the head of any other socialistic state, 
with the money he has obtained by diverting funds from 
producers' use, can induce creative action along the lines 
of his choice. But observe where this authoritarian process 
channels creative energies: it puts genius at work on ques- 
tionable if not downright evil ends! Let us remember that 
not all genius is employed on the side of the angels. Is it 
not plain that creative energies can be turned to destruc- 
tive ends? Do we need any more proof of this than the 
amazing ingenuity that has brought about the most de- 

5 From Human Action (2nd ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 
1965), p. 141. 


structive force ever devised by man? But putting aside the 
H-bomb, and such miraculous and fascinating follies as 
orbiting monkeys and men around our earth, reflect on 
the countless economy-destroying projects that result from 
man lording it over his fellow men. Man cannot feign the 
role of God without finally playing the devil's part. This 
is to say, as Emerson so eloquently phrased it: 

Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be 
severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end 
pre-exists in the means, the fruit in the seed.' 

Stated in other terms, man cannot use coercion for other 
than destructive purposes; for even a legitimate p)olice action 
for defense is still an inhibiting or destructive action, how- 
ever necessary a police force may be. Raise billions by de- 
stroying freedom of choice — the socialist format — and the 
creative energies the funds finance will rarely serve the 
higher ends of life. Three men on the moon, farmers paid 
not to farm, flood control that floods land forever, mail 
delivery that bears a $3 million daily deficit, the rebuild- 
ing of urban areas that the market has deserted, the financ- 
ing of socialistic governments the world over, arc cases in 
point. None of these is a creative or productive endeavor 
in the full sense of those terms. 

I began this chapter with the resolve to demonstrate that 
socialism depends upon and presupposes material achieve- 
ments which socialism itself cannot create, that socialism 
is productively sterile. But after thinking it through, I 

• From The Complete Essays and Other Writings of Ralph Waldo 
Emerson (New York, N. Y.: The Modern Library, 1940), p. 176. 


must confess that my affirmation can be proven only to 
those persons who see the long-range effects of present ac- 
tions; and to those who know that man playing God is a 
prime evil, an evil seed that must grow to a destructive 
bloom, however pretty it may appear in its earlier stages. 

• CHAPTER 5 • 


The progressive income tax, federal urban renewal, federal 
aid to education, and a host of other welfare and unem- 
ployment measures are precisely what Karl Marx had in 
mind with his ideal for the Communist Party, *'. . . from 
each according to his ability, to each according to his 

However, we must not discard the practices of this social 
leveling principle simply because it had a sponsor we do 
not esteem or because it is the very essence of communism, 
a system we claim to despise. We must never reason from 
a premise as shallow as prejudice. 

Let us reason from the premise set forth in the first 
chapter, the emergence of the individual. Keeping this in 
mind as our objective — the point of reference from which 
our conclusions are reasoned — what effect has the practice 
of this social leveling principle? Is the individual harmed 
or helped? That is the question! 

A high school teacher of history and economics made an 
interesting attempt to explain how this principle would 



work should he apply it to his class.i It went something like 

John, you received a grade of 95. Dick, you received a grade 
of 55. I shall uke 20 from you, John, and give the 20 to you, 
Dick. By doing this, each of you will have a grade of 75, ade- 
quate for passing. 

Now, how will this Marxist principle work in practice? You, 
John, will cease to work because I have removed your incen- 
tive. And, you, Dick, will give up work altogether because 
work is no longer the condition for a passing grade. 

Thus, you see, we have a workless class. In the grown-up 
world people cannot live without work any more than you can 
learn without work. How, then, is work to be induced? The 
answer is simple: get ourselves an authoritarian, one who forces 
us to do what he thinks we ought to be doing. 

Mentioned in the teacher's explanation to his class are 
the three distinct classifications of persons involved in the 
social leveling process, the archetypes of which are: (1) 
the person with "ability," that is, the one from whom is 
taken, (2) the person with "need," that is, the one to 
whom someone else's property is given, and (3) the person 
who does the taking and giving, the political Robin Hood, 
the authoritarian. 

Th« Person with Ability 
If my contention is correct that all persons, in all three 
categories, are harmed by social leveling, then it must fol- 
low that the whole caboodle of what are called "social 
gains" not only fail to benefit anyone but, rather, have a 
deteriorating effect on everyone. Let's examine these arche- 
types in their taken-from, given-to, dictator order. 

1 Thomas J. Shelly, when he taught at Yonkers High School. 


At the outset, we must not assume common agreement 
that harm is visited only on the person from whom is 
taken. There are many well-to-do individuals, sensitive to 
the plight or suffering of others, who gladly turn over to 
government the responsibility of caring for all afflicted peo- 
ple and, along with this shifting of responsibility from 
themselves to the state, a willingness for the government to 
draw on (tax) their ability to pay. They, not I, should be 
the judge of the harm such shifting of responsibility does 
to them. I can only question their judgment. 

Division of labor — me to my speciality, you to yours — is 
essential to an expanding wealth. But there are several as- 
pects of life we cannot turn over to others without harm to 
our individual expansion. Religion cannot be shifted to 
others, and we are well advised not to leave our liberty in 
someone else's hands. Further, I would suggest that charity 
is a distinctly personal, not a collective, matter. 

President Cleveland vetoed a $10,000 appropriation to 
purchase seed wheat for Texans who had suffered a drought. 
Included in his message was the point I wish to emphasize: 

Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of pa- 
ternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the 
sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the in- 
dulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and con- 
duct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood. 

Can any person relieve himself of charitable concerns 
without losing a priceless ingredient of individual emer- 
gence? Does not a growth of the spirit and soul of man 
require that a concern for others be retained for strictly 


personal attention? President Cleveland gave an affirmative 
answer to these questions, as do I. 

There are, however, millions with "ability" who wish to 
make their own decisions as to how the fruits of their own 
labor should be exjiended. They have judgments concern- 
ing people in their own orbits, based on intimate experi- 
ences and relationships, a knowledge which no agency — 
governmental or private — can possibly possess. Are these 
persons to be deprived of their own funds and the practice 
of personal charity denied to them because some others 
wish the government to pre-empt the welfare activity? 

You, for instance, wish to practice an act of charity. But 
this voluntary act — one of the highest expressions of a com- 
mon brotherhood — is thwarted when your honestly ac- 
quired income is taken by government. What was yours 
has been arbitrarily declared not yours; a "social" claim on 
your labor has been decreed. Indeed, government now oper- 
ates on the theory that it has a first lien on your income 
and capital; your freedom of choice is severely restricted. 
As a consequence, you are restrained from practicing your 
own religion should your religion call for a personal char- 
ity toward others. The state will practice charity for you. 
A common brotherhood, by some quirk of reasoning, is to 
become a collective act of compulsion! 

Then again, you may want to save that part of your in- 
come over and above your requirements for current living. 
Perhaps you may wish to "stash it under the mattress"! 
Who has any moral right to forbid it? Do strangers who 
didn't earn it have any right, in logic and justice, to what 
you have earned? 


More than likely, however, you will not act like King 
Midas but, rather, will invest your savings with the hope 
of some returns. This, beyond doubt, is one of the best ways 
to become a benefactor of mankind; for this is how capital 
formation is brought about. The capital is turned into tools 
and factories and power machinery — aids which help work- 
ers to produce more with their labor.* This increased pro- 
duction can, in turn, be put to savings and family security. 

It isn't possible to see other than harm done to the per- 
son with "ability" by the compulsory taking of his income. 

The Person in Need 

Now, to the second archetype: Does any able adult per- 
son "in need" really benefit by living on the confiscated 
income of others? Does this ever improve his character or 
his mental and physical faculties? His growth? Does any- 
one ever benefit by the removal of self-responsibility? 

The something-for-nothing idea appears to flourish wher- 
ever there is a failure to grasp the purp)ose behind the 
struggle for existence. The fullest possible employment of 
one's faculties is what makes for strength of body, of char- 

2 The textile industry, by itself, uses 15 billion kilowatt-hours an- 
nually, electric power t)eing only one of several forms. Bear in mind 
that the energy of one man working a whole year, on an eight-hour 
shift, is equivalent to 67 kilowatt-hours. This single industry, with 
this single form of power, adds the equivalent of 224,000,000 men — 
about triple the entire work force of the whole U.S.A.! It is this power 
in the hands of workers, in its numerous forms and extended into 
countless industries, brought about by savings, that has made American 
workers so prosperous. Thus, the saver, by pursuing his own interest, is 
led, regardless of intent, to equipping others for self-help. This is 
quite different from the Judeo-Christian concept of charity but, when 
it comes to helping others, savings have no equal. 


actcr, of spirit, of intellect. Non-use of taculties leads to 
atrophy. The story of the wild duck that joined the domes- 
tic ducks, was fed, but later couldn't fly above the barn- 
yard fence; of the gulls that fattened up at a shrimp plant 
but starved when it shut down; of the cattle that became 
accustomed to pen feeding and died rather than forage any 
more; of the hand-fed squirrels that laid up no nuts for 
the winter but bit the hands that fed them when the hands 
no longer held food — these and other stories of nature at- 
test to principles of biology which are as applicable to per- 
sons who cannot use reason as to animals which lack the 
faculty of reason. 

Life's problems — obstacles — are not without purpose. 
They aid the processes of self-development, as well as of se- 
lection and evolution. They demand of the individual that 
he gather new strength to hurdle each new obstacle. The art 
of becoming is composed of acts of overcoming. 

It is no accident that the vast majority of top-ranking 
Americans, whatever their walk of life, are men whose ca- 
reers have been associated with hardship and struggle. Re- 
wards not associated with one's own effort tend to weaken 
the sinews which make for growth. Such rewards — handouts 
— remove the necessity for production and invite potential 
producers to remain nonproducers. In short, there is an 
ever-present danger that they may encourage a person to 
become a parasite, living off what others produce. Para- 
sitism is not associated with man's upgrading. 

Only casual reflection on the principles of organization 
will make clear that responsibility and authority should al- 
ways be commensurate; they are meant to go hand-in-hand. 


When the responsibility for one's own welfare is sur- 
rendered to government, it follows that the authority to 
conduct one's life goes where the resp>onsibility is repK)sed. 
This is a matter over which we have no choice; it is a law 
of organization. 

The idea set forth in the Declaration of Indep)endence 
that each person- has an inherent and inalienable right to 
life becomes meaningless when a {>erson loses the authority 
for his own decisions and must act according to someone 
else's dictates. Unless an individual is self-controlling, his 
life is not truly his own. Before a life can be valued for its 
own sake — not simply a means to someone else's goal — that 
life must retain its own power to choose, along with its own 
quality, its own dignity. Without self-pK)wer, there is no 
basis for love, respect, and friendship, in short, a common 
brotherhood; the powerless person becomes either a puppet 
or an unwanted burden. Even a mother's love for an in- 
valid child cannot exist unless it is voluntarily bestowed. 
Aged persons and others who depend on the income of 
others, confiscated by government, become mere numbers 
in the confused statistics of f>olitical bureaus. Neither bu- 
reaus nor statistics have the capacity for charity or a com- 
mon brotherhood. 

Keeping in mind Emerson's accurate observation that the 
end pre-exists in the means, it should be plain that the 
evil means of confiscating income must lead to an evil end 
to those who live on it. 

Actually, we are dealing here with a problem arising 
from a double standard of morality. Comparatively few 
persons will take private property without the owner's con- 


sent. We think of that as steahng and frown on the prac- 
tice. Yet we will form a collective — politically group our- 
selves — and take billions in income without consent; we 
thoughtlessly call it "doing good." 

Doing politically what we reject doing individually in 
no manner alters the immorality of the act; it merely legal- 
izes the wrong and, thus, gains social absolution for the 
criminal; giving it the political twist keeps one from being 
tossed into jail! But to anyone who rejects the authoritar- 
ianism of a majority as much as that of a Stalin — to any- 
one who believes in the right to life and to one's honestly 
acquired property — no moral absolution is gained by legis- 

Those who think only materialistically may argue that 
the stealing of a loaf of bread is a loss to the person from 
whom it is taken but a gain to the thief, if the thief "gets 
away with it." This is an incorrect view. The person from 
whom the loaf is taken loses only the loaf. But the one who 
takes the loaf without the owner's consent loses not only the 
respect of all who know him but loses also his integrity! 
Man can never realize his creative potentialities without 
integrity. This virtue lies at the root of emergence. To live 
on loot appears to be no further removed from evil than 
to take the loot. 

Unless one believes in authoritarianism — that men 
should lord it over men, that some fallible humans should 
cast the rest of us in their little images — it is not possible 
to see anything but harm done to the person in "need" 
who is "aided" by taking the income of others without their 


The Authoritarian 

And last, the third archetype: Of the three classifications 
of persons involved in social leveling by compulsion, the 
authoritarian — the one who administers the taking and the 
giving — has been too little diagnosed. It is not difl&cult to 
understand the discouragement and the destruction that 
come to the person from whom honest income is confis- 
cated. Nor is it difficult to perceive the eroding of the 
moral fiber of those who become the "beneficiaries" of con- 
fiscated prop>erty. But what about "the humanitarian with 
the guillotine" — the well-meaning social reformer at the 
top of the political heap who uses the police force as his 
means of persuasion? Is harm done to him? Yes, though 
what happens to him may be difficult to portray. 

The person who attempts by force to direct or rear- 
range the creative activities of others is in a very real sense 
a slave-master. And here is the crux of it: A slave-master 
becomes a slave himself when he enslaves others. If an- 
other has me on my back, holding me down, he is as jjer- 
manently fastened on top of me as I am under him. Both 
of us are enslaved. True, he can, by force, keep me from 
being creative; but in so doing, his own energies must be 
diverted from creative to destructive actions. He cannot 
upgrade himself while he is employing his energies to 
downgrade. One who only destroys is himself destroyed. 
This is the same as saying that he who practices only evil 
is himself evil. Man's usefulness to himself, to other men, 
to Creation's purpose is to be achieved only by personal 
upgrading. If I reason logically from my premise, it fol- 
lows that I cannot be helpful to others except as others 


find in me something of a creative nature that is avail- 
able to them — in a voluntary relationship. 

Materialistically, the valuable person is the one who has 
money or tools to use or to lend, or goods or skills to ex- 
change. Intellectually, the valuable person is the one who 
has knowledge and understanding which are available to 
others in search of knowledge and understanding. Spiritual- 
ly, the valuable person is the one who, by reason of a love 
of righteousness, discovers some of the divine principles of 
the universe and becomes able to impart to others that 
which he has perceived — by deed as well as by word. 

All aspects of upgrading are creative in character. Nec- 
essarily they first demand an attention to self — that is, to 
self<ultivation. Nothing creative is induced by compul- 
sion. With the possible exception of a low form of imita- 
tion, compulsion has only the power to restrain, repress, 
suppress, penalize, destroy. By the use of sufficient force, I 
can keep you from acting creatively; but no amount of 
force can compel you to think, to invent, to discover, to 
attune yourself to the Infinite, the source of all knowledge 
and understanding. Compulsion is antagonistic to crea- 

The point under discussion is this: I cannot indulge in 
my own upgrading at the same time I am inhibiting some- 
one else's creative action. Therefore, to the extent that 
one's life is spent in using force to coerce others, to that 
extent is one's life destroyed, its higher purpose frustrated. 

In a reference to political authority. Lord Acton ob- 
served, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power cor- 
rupts absolutely." This warning is not to be taken lightly, 


for the evidence is all about us and the reason plain to see. 

Observe the profound change that comes over men 
when they are given power over others. When acting as 
responsible, self -con trolled human beings — when attending 
to their own affairs — they were admirable both in their 
thinking and in their behavior. Now let power over others 
be vested in them. In due course — usually soon — they begin 
to think like authoritarians; they talk like authoritarians; 
they act like authoritarians; for, indeed, they are authori- 
tarians. It is as if a chemical change had taken place in 
their persons. 

Power or authority over the creative activities of others 
— that is, a responsibility for the creative behavior of others 
— is an assignment with an inevitably destructive conse- 
quence. Thus overburdened, a wielder of power eventually 
becomes intolerant, quick-temp)ered, irrational, disresjject- 
ful, and unrespected. How could he be expected to func- 
tion as a strictly self-responsible individual under burdens 
which are not within his nature to shoulder? 

Further, when in possession of p>olitical power over the 
creative actions of others, a fallible human being is almost 
certain to mistake this power for infallibility. The obei- 
sance paid to a person in such authority, the drooling of the 
weak-willed who like to be led, the lies told by those who 
seek the favors he has the power to dispense — all these 
tend to aid and abet the process of his disintegration. It 
is not easy to reject flattery, regardless of its source. Indeed, 
the authoritarian loses his capacity to discriminate among 
sources. The mentality for directing others cannot simul- 
taneously attend to the art of discrimination, the latter 


being a purely personal, introspective accomplishment of 
the intellect. This is why it is often said of authoritarians: 
"They surround themselves with 'yes men.' " They cannot 
abide dissenters; in running the lives of others, they must 
have helpers who agree. This process spells inferiority for 
the life that erroneously claims superiority. 

Daily experience affords a clue as to what happens to 
the person who accepts dictatorship in any of its many 
forms. For example, observe two persons, with somewhat 
different views, rationally discussing some subject of com- 
mon interest. Each offers the other his most intelligent 
ideas, thus encouraging friendship and mutual confidence. 
This setting, plus the privacy of the occasion, combine to 
elicit from each the best that he has to offer. The exchange 
of intellectual energies is mutually beneficial, and the 
awareness of this fact encourages thinking and under- 

Now, place these same two individuals on a stage before 
a multitude, or place a microphone between them and an- 
nounce that 50 million people are listening in. Instandy, 
their mental processes will change. Thoughtfulness and the 
desire to understand each other will all but cease. No 
longer will they function as receiving sets, drawing on the 
expansible capacities of their own and each other's intel- 
lects. They will become only sending stations; outgoing will 
take the place of intaking. And what they say will be in- 
fluenced by how they think they sound to their audience 
and by their competition for applause. In short, they will 
become different persons because their psychological di- 
rectives have changed. Those who forego self-improvement 


for the sake of directing the lives of others exp>erience 
changes in their drives no less profound than the above il- 
lustration. The authoritarian act is always directed outward 
at other persons. 

The directing of, or the meddling in, the creative activi- 
ties of others — the dictator role — is so compellingly cor- 
rupting that no person, interested in his own upgrading, 
should ever accept the role. If he has made the error of 
acceptance, abdication for his own mental and spiritual 
health would seem advisable. The likelihood of corrup>- 
tion is so great that any p)erson is warranted in confessing, 
"Even I cannot assume this role without being corrupted." 

Each Man Plays Many Parts 

The three classifications discussed above are merely 
archetyf>es. In our country, today, it is almost imp>ossible 
to find a person who is strictly representative of but one 
of the three archetyf)es. By reason of the scof>e of social 
leveling by compulsion, and because of our general par- 
ticipation in {x>wer politics, most of us are more or less 
combinations of all three archetypes. No one of us is en- 
tirely one or the other; no one of us is entirely free of the 
ill effects. 

In summary, all of us are, to some extent, in this social- 
istic arrangement together. And all of us are degraded to 
the extent that social leveling by compulsion is practiced, 
whether we are primarily the ones with "ability," the ones 
with "need," or the ones who act as the coercive do-gooders 
or levelers. 


The only way, then, that we can avoid personal degra- 
dation is to avoid social leveling by compulsion. Not a 
single person is benefited; all are harmed by socialism. 

A positive suggestion! Let government confine itself to 
defending the life, liberty, and property of each of us 
equally; in short, let government keep the peace! Leave all 
creative action to men acting freely, all creative energy 
flowing unrestrained and uninhibited. Only the release of 
creative energy can produce abundance, be it material, in- 
tellectual, or spiritual. Given these kinds of abundance, 
along with the unrestrained freedom to act creatively, and 
there will be as much good done by each for others as 
there is good within us to give. 

• CHAPTER 6 • 


Our country has stumbled into socialism during the past 
half century; by now — 1964 — we have adopted nearly all the 
things socialists have long urged up>on us. A reading of the 
ten points in the Communist Manifesto confirms this. We 
who are aware of socialism's built-in destructiveness have 
watched this trend with apprehension. Foreseeing the end 
result, we are forever predicting, or warning against, the 
impending catastrophe which we think hangs over our 

Our dire predictions, however, fail to ring bells with 
many people. As a rule they are met by the rejoinder, "We 
never had it so good." And, so far as statistical measure- 
ments of material well-being are concerned, that claim ap- 
pears to hold water. Prosperity, according to the National 
Bureau of Economic Research, is reported to have increased 
as follows: 

Today's national income of |s,3oo per capita is double 
what it was (in constant dollars) forty years ago, and it is high- 
er in the face of a 70 per cent increase in population and a 
20 per cent reduction in the hours of paid work per capita. 



Output per man hour has grown over the same period at the 
average annual rate of 2.6 per cent. 

Today's higher income is more evenly distributed than the 
lower income of earlier years. 

The economic difficulties of most everyone have been les- 
sened through the establishment and broadening of various 
social welfare programs. 

The four recessions we have encountered since World War 
II are among the milder in our history, which means an un- 
usually long period free of serious depressions.^ 

Now, consider what has happened politically during this 
period. Statism, measured in terms of governmental expen- 
ditures per capita, has advanced from about |8o in the 
years just after World War I to more than $700 now.2 

Small wonder, then, that most people, observing statism 
and prosperity advancing coincidentally over so long a 
period, conclude that the growth of statism is the cause of 
the increased prosf>erity! But if there is a positive correla- 
tion here, why not expand prosperity indefinitely by the 
mere exp>edient of increasing governmental expenditures? 
This absurdity needs no comment. 

Nonetheless, it is true that the comeback, "We never had 
it so good," cannot easily be proved wrong statistically. A 
man leaping from an airplane at high altitude will, for a 
time in his fall, have the feeling of lying on a cloud. For 
a moment he would be warranted in exclaiming, "I've 

» See The Fortieth Anntial Report (i960), National Bureau of Eco- 
nomic Research. 261 Madison Avenue, New York, N. Y. 

« How closely does this approach what we call the "authoritarian 
state"? One way to make an estimate is to measure governmental take 
of earned income. In 191 7 it was less than 10 per cent. Today it is 36 
per cent. We must keep in mind, however, that a state of dictatorship 
can exist prior to a 100 per cent take— perhaps at the halfway mark. 


never had it so good I" And only one familiar with physi- 
cal principles such as the law of gravitation could prove to 
him that disaster lay ahead. Yet, some of us would believe, 
by reason of certain knowledge, that the man was not long 
for this world. 

Some of us believe that the chant, "We've never had it so 
good," is founded on a mistaken correlation. But more 
significantly, it overlooks moral realities which cannot be 
measured statistically. It is our conviction: 

1. That the practice of dishonesty is evil and that retri- 
bution follows the doing of evil. Every evil act commits us 
to its retribution. The time lag between rfie committing 
of an evil act and our awareness that retribution is being 
visited upon us has nothing to do with the certainty of ret- 
ribution; it has to do only with our own limited perce|>- 

2. That there is no greater dishonesty than man effecting 
his own private gains at the expense of others. This is ego 
gone berserk; it is the coercive assertion of one's supremacy 
as he defies and betrays his kind. 

3. That statism is but socialized dishonesty; it is feath- 
ering the nests of some with feathers coercively plucked 
from others — on the grand scale. There is no moral — only 
a legal — distinction between petty thievery and p>olitical 
Robin Hoodism, which is to say, there is no moral differ- 
ence between the act of a pickf>ocket and the progressive in- 
come tax or any other piece of socialization. 

Thus, many of us profoundly believe that we cannot 
maintain the present degree of statism, let alone drift 


further toward the omnipotent state, without our great 
economy flying to pieces. Nevertheless, we find it difficult to 
do more than express our misgivings and alarm. Why, pre- 
cisely why, does the present course presage disaster? What 
will be the nature of that disaster? Perhaps the following 
explanation may be worth pondering. 

A Societal Problem 

At the outset, imagine an impossible situation: a popula- 
tion composed of self-sufficient individuals, no exchange of 
any kind between them — not even conversation. Moral 
qualities, such as honesty among men and the practice of 
the Golden Rule, would never be brought into play. Each 
might be congenitally dishonest and unjust; but with no 
practice of the evils, what visible difference would it make? 

Now, assume the development of specialization and ex- 
change. The greater and more rapid the development, the 
more dependent would be each individual on all the others. 
Carried far enough, each person would be completely re- 
moved from self-sufficiency and utterly dependent on the 
free, uninhibited exchanges of the numerous specializa- 
tions. In this situation, a total failure in exchange would 
result in everyone's perishing. 

Whenever we become economically dependent on each 
other — an inescapable consequence of a highly specialized 
production and exchange economy — we become equally de- 
pendent on the moral qualities of the participating indi- 
viduals. No peaceful or free or willing exchange economy 
can exist among chronic liars and thieves; no such econ- 


omy can long endure without a high degree of honesty. This 
is self-evident. 

The degree of sf>ecialization in the U.S.A. today is with- 
out precedent in all history and, as a consequence, our de- 
pendence on each other is beyond the bounds of experience 
in this or any other country — ever! The question is, are 
we overly specialized and, thus, dangerously interdepend- 
ent? I believe we are. 

We are dangerously interdejjendent because so much of 
our specialization is unsound; it is not economic and nat- 
ural but, instead, is governmen tally forced and artificial. 
An economy founded on artificialities is in f)eril. 

Economic specialization is the sturdy variety that blooms 
in the context of the peaceful, free, and unfettered market; 
it is the natural, technological outcropping of consumer 
requirements as reflected in voluntary, willing exchanges. 
Given these postulates, production, regardless of how spe- 
cialized it is, generates its own purchasing power; balance 
is one of its built-in features. 

Natural Specialization Walcomad 

All advances in natural sp>ecialization improve the stand- 
ard of living. It is true that interdependence increases with 
its growth, but without peril, for economic interdependence 
is founded on consent; the countless relationships are as 
firmly rooted in general harmony and acceptance as is the 
free exchange of 30 cents for a can of beans. In a free 
market transaction each party chalks up a gain, for each 
values what he receives more than what he gives; each 


party is in a thank-you mood. Check this assertion with 
your own shopping experiences. 

Specialization of the free market variety develops an in- 
tegrated interdependence because each person is his own 
man — the whole man; all the faculties are called upon in 
his interrelationships. The premium is on self-responsi- 
bility and honesty, these being the cohesive ingredients 
which make specialization and exchange a workable ar- 
rangement. To prove the validity of these affirmations, 
simply reflect on one's daily free market experiences with 
the purveyors of countless specializations: groceries by the 
hundreds, milk, school supplies, footwear, clothing, gas, elec- 
tricity, on and on. The natural, peaceful, unfettered free 
market rewards — and gets — the honesty on which it relies. 

Unnatural sp>ecialization, on the other hand, decreases 
rather than increases the standard of living. It does not 
have its origin in consent but in force. It is not the result 
of millions upon millions of judgments voluntarily rend- 
ered. It is, instead, founded on the whims, caprices — call 
these judgments, if you choose — of political persons and 
committees, the few who have gained power over the rest 
of us. When these political "ins" take over a sector of so- 
ciety, they remove it from the area where free choice may 
be exercised by the millions of "outs." Our faculties are 
less and less called upon; self-responsibility shifts to gov- 
ernment or authoritarian responsibility — that of the po- 
litical "ins." The premium on honesty disappears as prizes 
are given more and more for bending to expediency, trad- 
ing influence and special privileges, log-rolling, and the 
like. From this turnabout, the individual tends to become 


someone else's man; that is, not the whole man but the 
fragmented man. Having forsworn independence or being 
deprived of it, men lose the incentive to be honest and 
self-responsible, and thus become incapable of true inter- 

As I see it, socialization harms the economy (i) by 
spawning unnatural specializations and (2) by demoraliz- 
ing the citizenry. Such moral qualities as self-responsibility 
and honesty are not exercised under socialism, and thus 
tend to wither away. And without these qualities, inter- 
dependence is unworkable. Moral qualities are gone with 
the wind when uprooted; it is self-evident that they do not 
exist except as they are practiced. 

Natural specializations emerge from the willing exchange 
(free) market at work. The unnatural and unhappy alter- 
native is for the government to forcibly collect income 
from citizens to employ individuals to specialize in occu- 
pations the willing exchange market would not supjx)rt. 

Exploring th« Moon 

Instead of trying to pick the danger point in this situa- 
tion from the hopeless governmental complex in which it 
is embedded, let us first examine a single facet. 

Take, for example, the moon project. What its ultimate, 
useful purpose is I cannot imagine. But putting aside per- 
sonal prejudices against this multibillion dollar project, it 
is obvious that it would not, at this time, emerge from the 
free market. Now, consider the countless specializations 
that this single governmental project calls into existence. 


Take only one of them: finding out how to cushion the 
landing of a TV set on the moon. The specialists who de- 
vote themselves to this problem, and all who are dependent 
on them, have no way of living except as they are able to 
exchange the income given to them by government for 
food, clothing, housing, and so on. But this income of 
theirs is not volunurily supplied in the market place; 
government has forcibly taken it from the rest of us. Who 
would willingly exchange the food he raises for this ser- 
vice to the moon project? This project qualifies as an 
unnatural specialization; it is not bound into the economy 
by mutual consent as reflected by willing exchanges in a 
free market; it is bound into the economy by the exertion 
of governmenul force or coercion. 

That some unnatural sf>ecializations are economically 
tolerable is conceded, but this is an exceedingly limited 
tolerance. Merely imagine everyone specializing in activi- 
ties for which no one would willingly exchange his in- 

All governmental intervention has as its object a forcible 
altering of what people would do were they unrestrained. 
To the extent that government intervenes in free action to 
that extent is unnatural specialization brought into play. 
While most of us will concede that government should 
forcibly restrain fraud, violence, and the like, it does not 
take a skilled sociologist to understand what would hap- 
pen to the economy were all citizens to specialize in po- 
licing. While the proper function of government is to 
keep the peace, citizens must be on the alert lest the bu- 
reaucracy pervert even this laudable objective. Too many 


soldiers and policemen are possible, as history attests. Not 
every corner requires a stop light. It is easy to be talked 
into a battleship or a supersonic bomber binge. If the 
bureaucracy is not checked, it will tend to build, in the 
name of peace, a defense against every conceivable con- 
tingency — so much "security" that "the secured" are with- 
out resources — helpless and hopeless. 

However, my aim in this chapter is not to discuss the 
merit of this or that type of forcible intervention; it is, 
rather, to suggest that there comes a f>oint in unnatural 
specializations beyond which extension is impossible with- 
out the economy flying to pieces. Supf)ose that everyone 
were engaged in one of the nonexchangeable services such 
as designing and constructing devices to cushion the land- 
ing of TV sets on the moon I 

Unmark*tabl« Sp«cialtiM 

Regardless of the need some may see for government golf 
courses or price supports or compulsory education of chil- 
dren or federally financed hospitals or numberless other 
socializations, the fact is that tens of millions of American 
citizens in consequence are now engaged in and wholly de- 
pendent on unmarketable specializations — and the number 
grows apace. Increasingly, more and more millions are be- 
coming dependent on such forced exchange of their un- 
wanted specializations for those goods and services without 
which they cannot live. Even if the personal virtues of 
honesty and self-responsibility were at their highest state 
of development, instead of their present eroded state, such 


a system could not be made to work. Nothing but the total 
state — the police force in charge of everything — can cause 
us to exchange with each other goods and services none of 
us wants. And, the total state, as I have already tried to 
demonstrate, is noncreative. The possibility of a good econ- 
omy disapf>ears with the total state. 

Bear in mind, when it comes to assessing prosperity and 
the state of the economy statistically, that dollars exchanged 
for unnatural specializations are counted as earned in- 
come precisely as if exchanged for natural specializations. 
This is a misleading fiction. For instance, there would be 
no decline in gross national product (GNP) , as presently 
computed by government, if all of us indulged in unmar- 
ketable specializations provided, of course, that the state 
priced the sf>ecializations high enough and forced us to 
exchange them even while we are slowly starvedl 

Statistical measurements of economic well-being cannot 
gauge the honesty and self-responsibility of the citizens, nor 
can any statistics warn us when unnatural specializations 
are becoming top heavy; such is beyond the scope of sta- 
tistical measurement. 

If one wishes to know how socialism harms the economy, 
I suggest that much less attention be given to statistics than 
to the question: How much immoral action is being in- 
troduced into the economy? If socializing the means and 
the results of production is immoral, as I contend, then 
socialism harms the economy by introducing immorality 
into it. In short, watch moral trends, rather than numeri- 
cal fictions, for danger signals. 

• CHAPTER 7 • 


When socialism is allowed to spread in an economy like 
that of the U.S.A., inflation — as pointed out in the second 
chapter — will be resorted to as a means of financing it. 
Briefly, whenever the exjjenditures for socialistic projects 
rise to that high point where it is no longer p>olitically ex- 
pedient to collect the costs thereof by direct tax levies, so- 
cialization programs must either cease or the government 
must finance them by an indirect tax: inflation. Not only 
does this claim seem reasonable, but the historical record 
confirms it. 

This is but half the story. Any influence which promotes 
inflation — without which any substantial socialism is im- 
possible — ipso facto promotes socialism. Inflation makes the 
extension of socialism possible by providing the financial 
chaos in which it flourishes. The fact is that socialism and 
inflation are simultaneously cause and effect; they feed on 
each other! 

What is this financial chaos of inflation? It is an increase 
by dilution of the money supply. The process or act of di- 
luting the medium of exchange is inflation. Brutally, but 



nonetheless accurately, inflation is legalized counterfeiting. 
Inflating the medium of exchange — other factors being 
equal— results in higher prices. But the rising price trend 
is not inflation; it is only one of the possible consequences 
of a dilution of the medium of exchange which lowers the 
purchasing value of the monetary unit. 

Finding all the causes of any given effect is perhaps im- 
I^ossible. My ears are injured. The injury is an effect. What 
caused the injury? A deafening sound. What caused the 
sound? Vibrations. What caused the vibrations? Dynamite. 
What caused the dynamite to detonate? And so on. We 
find that cause underlies cause, ad infinitum. 

Inflation, like the ear injury, is the effect of a sequence 
of causes which we have to examine in depth^-and the 
deeper we go, the more obscure the causes. However, the 
first cause that underlies inflation — an effect — is plainly 
observable. Inasmuch as government has sole responsibil- 
ity for our monetary system, we can easily see that govern- 
ment causes inflation. 

But, looking to the second level, what causes government 
to dilute (inflate) the money supply? Again, the answer 
comes clear: Government meets its costs of operation by 
taxation. How else? Now, if the costs of government go be- 
yond the point where direct tax levies will no longer pro- 
duce an equivalent revenue, government will resort to an 
indirect tax: an inflation of the money supply. It has al- 
ways been thus; politically, it cannot be otherwise. The 
new money created and spent by government reduces the 
value of each unit of money and credit outstanding. 

Very well. What is the third underlying cause, that is. 


what causes the expenses of government to be so high that 
they cannot be met by direct tax levies? At this level, the 
cause is more obscure. It is quite clear that expensive social- 
istic schemes do not have their origin in popular demand 
but, instead, are initiated by bureaucrats; imagined plights 
of minorities are dramatically portrayed and a demand for 
redress "whipped up."^ But, more to our point, there are 
small yet powerful groupings of the electorate — pressure 
groups — who effectively petition government (i) to get 
them out of their own messes or (2) to obtain benefits at 
someone else's expense. At this depth there are causes ga- 

Pressure Tactics of Labor Unions 

There are two reasons for considering labor unions as an 
example of the way pressure groups cause inflation and, 
thus, promote socialism (or, I might add, cause socialism 
and, thus, promote inflation!) First, by using the labor 
union example, we can demonstrate how businessmen, 
clergymen, and others bring on these twin destroyers. 

Second, we can show that the "wage-spiral," coercively 
induced by unions, is not itself a cause of inflation. Un- 
derstanding how such accusations are incorrectly leveled at 
labor unions will afford a better look at the inflation-social- 
ism complex. Looking into labor union behavior is like 
looking into the mirror for millions of us. What we see is 

1 See "The Public Demands . . . ?" by Dr. Emerson P. Schmidt. 
The Freeman, August, 1964. 


It can be truthfully said that people bring on both social- 
ism and inflation, but people do many other things besides. 
Thus, if we would stop inflation and thereby curb a major 
part of socialism, we should know which actions of people 
bring on inflation and which ones do not. In short, we need 
to know which one of the various labor union practices in- 
duces inflation. Otherwise, unions may be criticized on the 
wrong count while the critics innocently follow practices 
which bring on the very inflation they so stoutly deplore. 
We cannot hope to stop inflation until we gain some fa- 
miliarity with its causes — and the real cause will elude us 
as long as we chase fictitious ones. 

The labor union critics who blame inflation on the in- 
cessant, f>ersistent, coercive drives of labor unions for higher 
and higher wages are on the wrong track. Such coercion is 
not to be condoned, but it is not a cause of inflation. To 
explain: Suppose your gardener issues an ultimatum: 
either you pay him $100 a day from now on, or else he will 
quit — in which case he would use force if necessary to keep 
any other gardener from taking the job which he threatens 
to vacate (the labor union tactic, in principle) . You are 
right if you condemn this action, but you are wrong if you 
call it a cause of inflation. Why? Because no dilution of the 
money supply (inflation) is induced by either your ac- 
ceptance or refusal of this demand. True, you may go broke 
if you accept, or he may become unemployed if you re- 
fuse, but that's all the economics there is to it— nothing 
happens to the money supply. Nor is the economics of it 
altered one whit if a labor union induces a million gar- 
deners to take similar action in unison. Inflation is not one 


of the results. Such action as this merely creates an eco- 
nomic mess which the labor unions hasten to cover up. 
They promote "full employment" programs (socialism) 
which, to the casual observer, seem to absolve the unions 
from having committed any uneconomic practices. It is 
these costly covering-up programs that bring on the in- 

Why Wages Rise 

Like so many organizations, labor unions get blamed for 
sins they never committed, receive absolution for follies of 
their own making, have aims they cannot attain, and make 
claims for deeds they never achieved. For example, unions 
claim credit for raising wages. The truth is that unions 
have had no more to do with the general level of wages 
than with the level of the seven seas.* Admittedly, they 
have succeeded in obtaining increases for some of their 
members. And this has been not entirely at the expense 
of nonmembers; their tactics have disemployed many of 
their own members as well. In any event, their coercive 
wage hikes have not caused inflation. It is the covering-up, 
subsequent action that brings on inflation and makes the 
growth of socialism a financial plausibility. 

The actions of union members are based largely on the 
thinking of their top officials. Much of their philosophy is 
summarized in this sentence from an AFL-CIO pamphlet 
(Publication No. 41) : 

2 For a confirmation of this fact sec Why Wages Rise by F. A. 
Harper (Irvington-on-Hudson, N. Y.: Foundation for Economic Edu- 
cation, Inc., 1957). 


Through their legislative activities, unions have continuously 
championed measures to improve governmental benefits for 
various groups of citizens, without regard to whether the bene- 
ficiaries are union members or not. 

There may be less generosity in this doff of the hat to 
nonmembers than first meets the eye. One finds the unions, 
for instance, supporting more government aid to foreign 
countries, federal aid to education, more compulsory social 
security, government ownership of power and light facili- 
ties, federal aid to so-called distressed areas, and so on — 
all of these being part and parcel of government's guaran- 
teed full employment program — the cover-up for uneco- 
nomic practices by labor unions. 

Through Political Intervention 

Labor unions are politically influential. In large meas- 
ure, they obtain increased federal activity for projects they 
sponsor. Their coerced and uneconomic wage hikes cause 
unemployment; in short, their policies price workers out 
of the market. Then the unions throw their enormous po- 
litical influence behind federal urban renewal and other 
"full employment" projects which, in turn, cost billions 
of dollars, making for governmental costs that cannot pos- 
sibly be financed by direct tax levies. And this is how labor 
unions cause inflation and socialism! 

In principle, if not in degree, the social action program 
of the National Council of Churches resembles the labor 
unions' program— the assumption by government of more 
and more responsibility for the welfare of the people. The 


National Council of Churches is influential. The govern- 
ment activities it sponsors carry enormous costs. This is 
how the N.C.C. causes inflation and socialism! 

And, chambers of commerce? Only a few in the whole 
nation have refrained from seeking federal aid for local 
roads, hospitals, airports, and so forth. Chambers of com- 
merce have political influence. The "benefits" they advo- 
cate and achieve cost money. This is how chambers of com- 
merce cause inflation and socialism! 

Millions of citizens from all walks of life cause infla- 
tion in the very same manner. And all of them, along with 
labor unions, the N.C.C, chambers of commerce, and 
thousands of other organizations loudly decry inflation and 
demand that the fire be put out as they more or less inno- 
cently add fuel to iti 

Were we to explore any deeper, we should have to in- 
quire into the cause of the lax dispersal of the unlimited 
billions of dollars that government so easily grants to any 
and all pressure-group beggars. Why this Aladdin's Lamp, 
the slightest rubbing of which yields handouts without 
limit? Why, in Congress, is the question seldom asked 
any more, "Where's the money coming from?" The cause 
of this fiscal irresponsibility is complex indeed, but it has 
to do with that dearth of economic understanding which 
allows p>eople to believe they can pay bills by "watering" the 
medium of exchange, with a crack-up in our educational 
system, an inability to see and think long-range, a break- 
down in integrity, and a striking p)erversion of the ideal 
of statesmanship. 

• CHAPTER 8 • 


The practice of committees, boards, or councils presuming 
to represent the views of vast constituencies occurs in edu- 
cational and religious associations, in trade and commer- 
cial organizations, indeed in any segment of society where 
there is the propensity to organize. 

While there are daily examples by the thousands of this 
"thinking by proxy," one that stood out, and about which 
many are aware, had to do with a debate between the Na- 
tional Council of Churches and its erstwhile National Lay 
Committee. Their debate brought into focus a fault that 
may well lie at the root of unpeaceful socialism. It had to 
do with the propriety of the N.C.C.'s seeming to speak for 
35,800,000 Protestants on social, political, and economic 
questions. The N.C.C. argued affirmatively, the Lay Com- 
mittee negatively.^ 

Leo Tolstoy made the point I wish to examine: 

From the day when the first members of councils placed ex- 
terior authority higher than interior, that is to say, recognized 
the decisions of men united in councils as more important and 
more sacred than reason and conscience; on that day began 

1 US. News and World Report, February 3, 1956, pp. 43-46- 



lies that caused the loss of millions of human beings and which 
continue their unhappy work to the present day.^ 

Tolstoy's is a striking statement. Is it possible that there 
is something of a wholly destructive nature which has its 
source in council, or in group, or in committee- typ)e action? 
Can this sort of thing generate lies that actually cause the 
loss of "millions of human beings"? And, as I believe, aid 
and abet socialism in this bad bargain? 

Any reasonable clue to the unhappy state of our affairs 
merits investigation. Two world wars that settled nothing, 
but added to the difficulties of avoiding even worse ones; 
men of doubtful character rising to p>ositions of p>ower 
over millions of other men; freedom to produce, to trade, to 
travel disappearing from the earth; everywhere the fretful 
talk of security as insecurity daily becomes more evident; 
suggested solutions to problems made of the stuff that gave 
rise to the problems in the first place; the tragic spectacle, 
even here in America, of any one of many union labor 
leaders being able, at will, to control a strategic part of the 
complex exchange machinery on which the livelihood of 
all depends; these and other {perplexities of import com- 
bine to raise a tumultuous "why," and to hasten the search 
for answers. 

Strange how wide and varied the search, as though we 
intuitively knew the cause to lie in some elusive, hidden, 
unnoticed error; thousands of not loo well tutored folks 
trying to find light in difficult and erudite tomes, other 
thousands groping in quiet reflection for answers. 

2 Leo Tolstoy. The Law of Love and the Law of Violence (New 
York: Rudolph Field, 1948). p. 26. 


Yes, the search is on for the errors and their answers— 
for the affair is serious; the stake is life itself. And the er- 
ror or errors, it is agreed at least among the serious- 
minded, may well be found deep in the thoughts and be- 
haviors of men, even of well-intentioned men. Anyway, 
everything and everyone is suspect. And, why not? When 
there is known to be a culprit and the culprit is not iden- 
tified, what other scientifically sound procedure is there? 

". . . on that day began lies ..." That is a thought 
which deserves reflection. Obviously, if everything said or 
written were lies, then truth or right principles would be 
unknown. Subtract all knowledge of right principles, and 
there would not be chaos among men; there would be no 
men at all. 

If half of everything said or written were lies . . . ? 
What then? 

Principled Behavior 

Human life is dependent not only on the knowledge of 
right principles but relies, also, on actions in accord with 
right principles. However, the nearest that any person can 
get to right principles — truth— is that which his highest 
personal judgment dictates as right. Beyond that, one can- 
not go or achieve. Truth, then, as nearly as any individual 
can express it, is in strict conformity with this inner, per- 
sonal dictate of rightness. 

The accurate representation of this inner, personal dic- 
tate is intellectual integrity. It is the expressing, living, 
acting of such truth as any given person possesses. Inac- 
curate representation of what one believes to be right is 


untruth. It is a lie in the high level sense of the word, the 
type of lie Tolstoy vetoed and deplored. 

Attaining knowledge of right principles is an infinite 
process. It is a never-ending performance, a perpetual hatch- 
ing, a goal to be pursued but never attained. Intellectual 
integrity — the accurate reflection of highest jjersonal judg- 
ment — on the other hand, is undeniably within the reach 
of all. Thus, the very best we can ever hope to do with 
ourselves is to project ourselves at our best. To do other- 
wise is to tell a lie. To tell lies is to deny such truth as 
is known, and to deny truth is to destroy ourselves and 

It would seem to follow, then, that if we would find the 
origin of lies, we might put the spotlight on the genesis of 
our troublous times. This is why it seems appropriate to 
accept Tolstoy's statement as a working hypothesis and to 
examine the idea that lies begin when men accept "decisions 
of men united in councils as more imp>ortant and more 
sacred than reason and conscience." For, certainly, today, 
many of the decisions which guide national and world 
policy spring from "men united in councils." 

In what manner, then, do the "decisions of men united 
in councils" tend to initiate lies? A long exp>erience with 
these arrangements suggests to me that there are several 

Mob Action Analyiod 
The first way has to do with a strange and what must be 
an unconscious behavior of men in association. Consider 
the lowest form of association, the mob. It is a loose and 

APPOINT A committee! «- 

wholly emotional type of gathering. The mob will tar and 
feather, burn at the stake, string up by the neck; in short, 
murder! But dissect this association, pull it apart for a 
careful view, investigate its members. Each person, very 
often, is a God-fearing, home-loving, wouldn't-kill-a-fly 
type of individual. 

What hapf>ens then? What causes persons in a mob to 
behave as they do? What accounts for the distinction be- 
tween these f)ersons acting as self-responsible individuals 
and these very same persons acting in mob-type committee? 

Perhaps it is this: These persons, when in mob associa- 
tion, and perhaps at the instigation of a demented leader, 
lose the self-disciplines which guide them in individual or 
self-control led action; thus, the evil which is in each per- 
son is released, for there is some evil in each of us. In this 
situation, no one of the mobsters consciously assumes the 
personal guilt for what is thought to be a collective act but, 
instead, puis the onus of it on an irresponsible abstrac- 
tion — the mob. 

I may appear to be unfair in relating mob association to 
association in general. In all but one respect, yes. But in 
this single exception there is a striking similarity. 

Individuals support proposals in association that they 
would never propose on their own responsibility. Persons 
of normal veracity, by any of the common standards of 
honesty, will join as a board or a committee to sponsor 
legal thievery, for instance— they will urge the use of the 
political means to exact the fruits of the labor of others 
to benefit themselves, their groups, their community or, to 
put it bluntly, their mob. 


Joe Doakes Seeks Entry 

Imagine this: Joe Doakes passed away, his spirit floating 
to the Pearly Gates. In response to a knock. Saint Peter 
appeared and inquired: 

"Who are you, may I ask?" 

"My name is Joe Doakes, sir." 

"Where are you from?" 

"I am from Robinhoodsville, U.S.A." 

"Why are you here?" 

"I plead admittance." 

Saint Peter scanned his scroll and said: 

"Yes, Joe, your name apf>ears on my list but I cannot admit 

"Why not, pray tell?" 

"You stole money from millions of others, including widows 
and orphans." 

"You must have me confused with someone else; I had the 
reputation of being the most honest man in my community." 

"You may have had that reputation among men, but they 
did not see through the nature of your actions. You see, Joe, 
you were a member, a financial supporter, and once on the 
Board of Directors of the Robinhoodsville Chamber of Com- 
merce, the most influential committee in your town. You folks, 
gathered in council, advocated and obtained a municipal golf 
course. That project took from the livelihood of others, in- 
cluding widows and orphans, in order that a hundred or so 
golfers might enjoy the sport with little cost to themselves." 

"But Saint Peter, the Robinhoodsville Chamber of Com- 
merce took that action, not your humble applicant, Joe 

Saint Peter scanned his scroll again, slowly raised his head 
and said somewhat sadly: 

"Joe, the Robinhoodsville Chamber of Commerce is not on 
my list, nor any foundation, nor any church, nor any trade 
association, nor any labor union, nor any P.T.A., nor any com- 
mittee. All 1 have on my scroll are individuals, just individuals." 


It ought to be obvious that we as individuals do stand 
responsible for our actions regardless of any wishes to the 
contrary and irrespective of the devices we try to arrange 
to avoid personal responsibility. Actions of the group — 
council or committee — insofar as they are not accurate 
reflections of the participating individuals, must be classi- 
fied as lies. 

Th« Art of Compromise 

Another way that lies are initiated by the "decisions of 
men united in councils" inheres in commonly accepted 
committee practices. Here is a committee which has been 
assigned the task of preparing a report on what should be 
done about rent control. The first member is devoted to 
the welfare-state idea and believes that rents should for- 
ever be controlled by governmental fiat. The second mem- 
ber is a devotee of the voluntary society with its free mar- 
ket economy, and a government of strictly limited powers. 
He, therefore, believes all remaining rent control should 
be abolished immediately. The third member believes that 
rent control is wrong but that decontrol should be effected 
gradually, over a period of years. 

This not uncommon situation is composed of men hon- 
estly holding three different and irreconcilable beliefs. Yet, 
a report is expected and, under the customary committee 
theory and practice, is usually forthcoming. What shall 
they do? Is there some compromise not too disagreeable 
to any one of the three committeemen? For instance, why 
not recommend that landlords be permitted by government 
to increase rents by no more than 15 per cent? Agreed! 


In this hypothetical case — in no way at odds with com- 
mon practice — the recommendation is a fabrication. Truth, 
as understood by any one of the three, has no spokesman; 
it has been miserably distorted. By any reasonable defini- 
tion, a lie has been told. 

This example (numberless variations could be cited) sug- 
gests only the nature of the lie in embryo. It is interesting 
to see what becomes of it. 

Behind the Committ** 

Not all bodies called committees are true committees, a 
phase of the discussion that will be dealt with later. How- 
ever, the true committee — an arrangement which calls for 
resolutions in accord with what a majority of the mem- 
bers are willing to say in concert — is but the instigator of 
fabrications yet more pronounced. The committee, for the 
most part, presupposes another larger body to which its 
recommendations are made. 

These larger bodies have a vast, a very nearly all-in- 
clusive, range in present-day American life: the neigh- 
borhood development associations; the small town and big 
city chambers of commerce; the regional and national trade 
associations; the P.T.A.'s; labor unions organized verti- 
cally to encompass crafts and horizontally to embrace in- 
dustries; farmers' granges and co-ops; medical and other 
professional societies; ward, precinct, county, state, and 
national organizations of political parties; government 
councils, from the local police department to the Congress 
of the United States; the United Nations; thousands and 

APPOINT A committee! qh 

tens of thousands of them, every citizen embraced by sev- 
eral of them and millions of citizens embraced by scores 
of them; most of them resolving to act as groups, as "men 
united in councils." 

These associational arrangements divide quite naturally 
into two broad classes: (i) those that are of the voluntary 
type, the kind to which we pay dues if we want to, and 
(2) those that are a part of government, the kind to which 
we pay taxes whether we want to or not. For the pur- 
pose of this critique, emphasis will be placed on the vol- 
untary type. 

Now, it is not true, nor is it here pretended, that every 
associational resolution originates in distortions of personal 
conceptions of what is right. But any one of the millions 
of citizens who participate in these associations has, by ex- 
perience, learned how extensive these fabrications are. As 
a matter of fact, there has developed a rather large accept- 
ance of the notion that wisdom can be derived from the 
averaging of opinions, provided there are enough of them. 
The quantitative theory of wisdom, so to speak! 

Th« Deception Extended 

If one will concede that the aforementioned committee 
characteristics and council behaviors are perversions of 
truth, it becomes interesting to observe the manner of their 
extension — to observe how the lie is compounded. 

Analyzed, it runs something like this: An association 
takes a position on some issue and claims or implies that 
it speaks for its 1,000,000 members. It is possible, of course. 


that each of the million members agrees with the stand 
taken by the association. But in all probability, this is an 
untruthful claim for the following reasons: 

1. If every member were actually polled on the issue, 
and the majority vote were accepted as the association's jx)- 
sition, there is no certainty that more than 500,001 persons 
agreed with the p>osition claimed to be that of the 1,000,000. 

2. If not all members were polled, or not all were at the 
meeting where the voting took place, there is only the cer- 
tainty that a majority of those voting favored the position 
of the association — still claimed to be the p>osition of 1,000,- 

000 members. If a quorum should be 100, there is no cer- 
tainty that more than 51 persons agreed with the position. 

3. It is still more likely that the opinion of the mem- 
bers was not tested at all. The officers, or some commit- 
tee, or some one person may have determined the stand of 
the association. Then there is no certainty that more than 
one person (or a majority of the committee) favored the 
association's position. 

4. And, finally, if that person should be dishonest — that 
is, untrue to that which he personally believes to be right, 
either by reason of ulterior motives, or by reason of antici- 
pating what the others might approve — then, it is pretty 
certain that the resolution did not even originate in a 
single honest opinion. 

A personal experience will highlight the point I am 
trying to make. The economist of a national association and 

1 were breakfasting, just after V-J Day. Wage and price 

APPOINT A committee! 

controls were still in eflEect. The economist opened our 

"I have just written a report on wage and price controls 
which I think you will like." 

"Why do you say you think I will like it? Why don't you 
say you know I will like it?" 

"Well, I — er — hedged a little on rent controls." 
"You don't believe in rent controls. Why did you hedge?" 
"Because the report is as strong as I think our Board of 
Directors will adopt." 

"As the economist, isn't it your duty and responsibility to 
sute that which you believe to be right? If the Board Mem- 
bers want to take a wrong action, let them do so and bear the 
responsibility for it." 

Actually, what did happen? The Board adopted that re- 
port as written by the economist. It was represented to a 
committee of the Congress as the considered opinion of 
the constituency of that association. Many of the mem- 
bers believed in the immediate abolishment of rent con- 
trol. Yet, they were reported as believing otherwise — and 
paying dues to be thus represented. By supporting this 
procedure with their membership and their money, they 
were as responsible as though they had gone before the 
Congress and told the lie themselves. 

In order to avoid the twofold dishonesty in this situation, 
the spokesman of that association would have had to tell 
the whole truth to the congressional committee. It would 
have been like this: 

"This report was adopted by our Board of Directors, 35 of 
the 100 being present. The vote was 18 in favor, 12 against; 
5 did not vote. The report itself was written by the associa- 
tion's economist, but he does not believe it is right." 


Such honesty or exactness is more the exception than the 
rule, as everyone who has had experience in associational 
work can attest. What really happens is a misrepresenta- 
tion of concurrence, a misorganized way of lying about 
how many of any group stand for what. Truth, such as is 
known, is seldom spoken. It is warped into a misleading 
distortion. It is obliterated by this process of the majority 
speaking for the minority, more often by the minority 
speaking for the majority, sometimes by one dishonest o|> 
portunist speaking for thousands. Truth, such as is known 
— the best judgments of individuals — for the most part, goes 
unrepresented, unspoken. 

This, then, is the thread out of which much of local, na- 
tional, and world policy is being woven. Is it any wonder 
that many citizens are confused? 

Three questions are in order: 

(i) What is the reason for all these troubles with truth? 

(2) What should we do about these associational diffi- 

(3) Is there a projjer place for associational activity as 
relating to im{x>rtant issues? 

Th« R«atont Examined 

As emphasized in the previous chapter, p>ointing out 
causes is a hazardous venture; as one ancient sage put it, 
"Even from the beginnings of the world descends a chain 
of causes." Thus, for the purpose of this critique, it would 
be folly to attempt more than casual reference to some of 
our own recent experiences. 

APPOINT A committee! 1q1 

First, there appears to be no widespread, lively recog- 
nition of the fact that conscience, reason, knowledge, in- 
tegrity, fidelity, and other virtues are the distinctive and 
exclusive properties of individual persons. 

Somehow, there follows from this lack of recognition the 
mischievous notion that wisdom can be derived by pooling 
the conclusions of a sufficient number of persons, even 
though no one of them has applied his faculties to the prob- 
lem in question. From this premise, the imagination begins 
to ascribe personal characteristics to a collective — the com- 
mittee, council, association — as though the collective could 
think, judge, know, or assume responsibility. With this as 
a notion, there is the inclination to substitute the "decisions 
of men united in councils" for the reason and conscience 
of persons. The individual feels relieved of personal re- 
sponsibility and thus gives no real thought to the matter 
in question. 

Second, there is an almost blind faith in the efficacy and 
Tightness of majority decision, as though the mere pre- 
ponderance of opinion were the device for determining 
what is right. This thinking is consistent with and a part 
of the "might makes right" doctrine. 

Third, we have carried the division-of-labor practice to 
such a high point in this country, and with such good effect 
in standard-of-living benefits, that we seem to have forgot- 
ten that the practice has any limitations. Many of us, in 
our voluntary associational activities, have tried to delegate 
moral and personal responsibilities to these associational 

As a consequence, our policies and public positions are 


void of reason and conscience. These massive quantities of 
unreasoned collective declarations and resolutions have the 
power to inflict damage but are generally useless in con- 
ferring understanding. So much for causes. 

Do Not Participate! 

Next, what can be done about these associational dif- 
ficulties? I can give only my own answer. I do not know 
what our attitude should be, but only what mine is! It is 
to have no part in any association whatsoever which takes 
actions implicating me, for which I am not ready and will- 
ing to accept personal responsibility.^ 

Put it this way: If I am opposed, for instance, to spolia- 
tion — legal plunder — I am not going to risk being reported 
in its favor. This is a matter having to do with morals, and 
moral responsibility is strictly a personal affair. In this and 
like areas, I prefer to sp)eak for myself. I do not wish to 
carry the division-of-labor idea, the delegation of author- 
ity, to this untenable extreme. 

One friend who shares these general criticisms objects 
to the course I have taken. He argues that he must remain 
in associations which {persist in misrepresenting him in or- 
der to influence them for the better. If one accepts this 
view, how can he avoid "holing up" with every evil to be 
found, anywhere? How can one lend support to an agency 
which lies about his convictions and avoid living a lie in 

3 This determination of mine docs not refer to membership in or 
support of either of the two major political parties. What I consider 
to be an appropriate role concerning partisan politics is reserved for 
the next chapter. 

APPOINT A committee! IOq 

the process? If to stop such evil in others one has to in- 
dulge in evil, it seems evident that evil will soon become 
universal. The alternative? Stop lending a hand to the 
doing of evill This at least has the virtue of lessening the 
evildoers by one. Furthermore, were there a record of the 
men who have wrought the greatest changes for good in 
the world, I am certain that the ones who acted on their 
own responsibility would top the ones who acted in com- 

How Associations May Help 

Now the third question, "Is there a proper place for 
associational activity as relating to important public is- 
sues?" There is. 

The bulk of activities conducted by many associations 
is as businesslike, as economical, as appropriate to the divi- 
sion-oMabor process, as is the organization of specialists to 
bake bread or to make automobiles. It is not this vast num- 
ber of useful service activities that is in question. 

The phase of committee activities which I see as the 
cause of so much mischief has to do with a technique, a 
plausible but insidious method by which reason and con- 
science — the repositories of such truths as we possess — 
are not only robbed of incentive for improvement but are 
actually used for fabrications, which are then represented 
as the convictions of p>ersons who hold no such convictions. 
No better device for the promotion of socialism was ever 
invented 1 

It was noted above that not all bodies called committees 
are true committees, a true committee being an arrange- 


ment by which a number of persons bring forth a report 
consistent with what the majority is willing to state in con- 
cert. The true committee is part and parcel of the "major- 
ity is right" line of thought — or lack of thought. 

The alternative arrangement, on occasion referred to as 
a committee, may include the same set of men. The dis- 
tinction is that the responsibility and the authority for a 
study is vested not in the collective, the set of men, but 
in one person, preferably the one most skilled in the sub- 
ject at issue. The others serve not as decision makers but 
as consultants. The one person exercises his own judgment 
as to the suggestions to be incorporated or omitted. The re- 
port is his and is presented as his, with such acknowledg- 
ments of assistance and concurrence as the facts warrant. 
In short, the responsibility for the study and the authority 
to conduct it are reposed where responsibility and author- 
ity are capable of being exercised — in an individual. This 
arrangement takes full advantage of the skills and special- 
ties of all parties concerned. The tendency here is toward 
an intellectual leveling-up, whereas with the true committee 
the tendency is toward irresf>onsibiIity. The first principle 
of any successful organizational arrangement is: always 
keep responsibility and authority commensurate and in 

On occasion, associations are formed for a particular 
purpose and supported by those who are like-minded as to 
that purpose. As long as the associational activities are 
limited to the stated purpose and as long as the members 
remain like-minded, the danger of misrepresentation is 

APPOINT A committee! Iqk 

It is the multipurposed association, the one that poten- 
tially may take a "position" on a variety of subjects, par- 
ticularly subjects relating to the rights or the property of 
others — moral questions — where misrepresentation is not 
only possible but almost certain. Merely keep in mind the 
nature of a committee. 

The remedy here, if a remedy can be put into effect, is for 
the association to quit taking "positions" except on such 
rare occasions as unanimous concurrence is manifest, or 
except as the exact and precise degree and extent of con- 
currence is represented. Were the whole truth told about 
the genesis of and the concurrence in most committee re- 
ports, their destiny would be the wastebasket. 

Th« Strength of the Individual 

The alternative to associational "positions" is individual 
membership positions, that is, using the associational facili- 
ties to service the members: provide headquarters and meet- 
ing rooms where members may assemble in free association, 
exchange ideas, take advantage of the knowledge of others, 
learn of each other's experiences and thoughts. In addition, 
let the association be staffed with research experts and a 
competent secretariat, having on hand a working library 
and other aids to learning. Then, let the members speak 
or write or act as individual persons! Indeed, this is the 
real, high purpose of voluntary associations. 

The practical as well as the ethical advantages of this 
suggested procedure may not at first be apparent. Imagine 
Patrick Henry having said: 


"I move that this convention go on record as insisting that 
we prefer death to slavery." 

Now, suppose that the convention had adopted that mo- 
tion. What would have been its force? Certainly almost 
nothing as compared to Patrick Henry's ringing words: 

"I know not what course others may take; but as for me, 
give me liberty or give me death!" (Italics mine) 

This was not a case of Patrick Henry's trying to decide 
for anyone else. His listeners were invited to consider only 
what he had decided for himself, and thus could weigh, 
more favorably, the merits of emulation. No convention, 
no association, no "decisions of men united in councils" 
could have said such a thing in the first place; and second, 
anything the members might have said in concert could 
not have matched the force of this personal declaration. 
Third, had the convention been represented in any such 
sentiments, it is likely that misrepresentations would have 
been involved. 

A moment's reflection on the words of wisdom that have 
come down to us throughout all history, the words and 
works that have had the power to live, the words and works 
around which we have molded much of our lives, must re- 
veal that they are the words and works of persons — 
not of collectives or sets of men, not what men have uttered 
in concert, not the "decisions of men united in councils." 

In short, if advancement of what's right is the objective, 
then the decision-of-men-united-in-council practice could 
well be abandoned on the basis of its impracticality — if for 
no higher reason. Conceded, it- can do mischief; it is also 


an utter waste of time in the creative areas, that is, for the 
advancement of truth. 

The reasons for the impracticality of this device in the 
creative areas seem clear. Each of us when seeking perfec- 
tion, whether of the spirit, of the intellect, or of the body, 
looks not to his inferiors but to his betters, not to those 
who self-appoint themselves as his betters, but to those 
who, in his own humble judgment, are his betters. Ex- 
f)enence has shown that such perfection as there is exists 
in individuals, not in the lowest common-denominator ex- 
pressions of a collection of individuals. Perfection emerges 
with the dear expression of personal faiths — the truth 
as it is known, not with the confusing announcement of 
verbal amalgams — lies. 

". . . on that day began lies that caused the loss of mil- 
lions of human beings and which continue their unhappy 
work to the present day." The evidence, if fully assembled 
and correctly presented, would, no doubt, convincingly 
affirm Tolstoy's observation. We have, in this process, the 
promoter of socialism and the enemy of peace. 

How to stop this type of lie? It is simply a matter of per- 
sonal determination and a resolve to act and speak in strict 
accord with one's own inner, personal dictate of what is 
right— and for each of us to see to it that no other man or 
set of men is given our permission to represent us other- 

• CHAPTER 9 • 


In the previous chapter I vowed never to support any 
organization which would take positions representing me, 
which positions I would not willingly ([peacefully) stand 
personally responsible for. In short, I object to organiza- 
tions that claim a consensus that does not exist — a false 
reporting of agreement growing out of committee action. 

It is logical for anyone to inquire, "Well, what about 
support of and membership in one of the two major polit- 
ical parties? Would you go so far as to take part in neither 
of these? You would vote for the candidate of one or the 
other party, regardless of positions, wouldn't you?" These 
are good questions and deserve a careful answer, though I 
am not suggesting that anyone else adopt my view. 

According to The Columbia Encyclopedia, "the existence 
of only two major parties, as in most £nglish-sf>eaking 
countries, presupposes general public agreement on con- 
stitutional questions and on the aims of government." This 
idea is fundamental to my thesis. Under such agreeable 
circumstances, each party keeps a check on the other, thus 
giving assurance that neither party will step out of the 
bounds that have been agreed upon. 

Let it be re-emphasized that the two-party system (i) 



presupposes a general agreement on constitutional ques- 
tions and the aims of government and (2) aims at, if it 
does not presuppose, honest candidates contending for 
office within the framework of that constitution. In this 
kind of political order, each office seeker is supposed to 
present fairly his own capabilities as related to the agreed- 
upon framework, voting being for the purpose of deciding 
which candidate is more competent for that limited role. 

Clearly, the theory as originally conceived did not intend 
that the positions of candidates should be a response to 
voter opinion polls concerning the content or meaning of 
the constitution and the aims of government. If voters 
could thus reshape or reform the boundaries of govern- 
ment at will, there would be no need of candidates. Far 
less costly and more efficient would be the purchase of an 
electronic computer into which voter opinions and caprices 
would be continually fed; it could spew out altered con- 
stitutions and governmental purposes every second! 

If there were "a general public agreement on constitu- 
tional questions and on the aims of government," and if 
candidates were vying with each other for office solely on 
their competency to [perform within this framework, I 
would have no comment. But there is little contemporary 
agreement as to constitutional questions and the aims of 
government! Name a point that can now be presupposed. 
Both the questions and the aims are at sixes and sevens. 

And as to candidates — with a few notable exceptions — 
they no longer contend with each other as to their compe- 
tence to serve within a generally accepted framework but, 


(i) they compete to see which one can come up with the most 
popular alteration of the framework, and 

(2) they compete to see which one can get himself in front 
of the most popular voter grab bag in order to stand four- 
square for some |>eople's supposed right to other people's 

The upshot of this political chaos is that voters are sel- 
dom given the chance to decide on the basis of competency 
but have only the choice of deciding between opportunists 
or, a better term, trimmers. This changed situation does, 
indeed, call for comments about political party membership 
and voting. 

Despite the respectability of the two-party theory, its 
practice has "come a cropper." Today, trimming is so 
much in vogue that often a voter cannot cast a ballot except 
for one of two trimmers. Heard over and over again is the 
apology, "Well, the only choice I had was to vote for the 
lesser of two evils. I had to vote for one of them, didn't 
I?" A moral tragedy is implicit in this confession, as well 
as a political fallacy; in combination they must eventually 
lead to economic disaster. 


It is morally tragic whenever a citizen's only choice is 
between two wrongdoers — that is, between two trimmers. 

A trimmer, according to the dictionary, is one who 
changes his opinions and policies to suit the occasion. In 
contemporary political life, he is any candidate whose 
position on issues depends solely on what he thinks will 
have most voter appeal. He ignores the dictates of his high- 


er conscience, trims his personal idea of what is morally 
right, tailors his stand to the popular fancy. Integrity, the 
accurate reflection in word and deed of that which is 
thought to be morally right, is sacrificed to expediency. 

These are severe charges, and I do not wish to be mis- 
understood. One of countless personal experiences will 
help clarify what is meant: A candidate for Congress sat 
across the desk listening to my views about limited govern- 
ment. At the conclusion of an hour's discussion he re- 
marked, "I am in thorough accord with your views; you 
are absolutely right. But I couldn't get elected on any 
such platform, so I shall represent myself as holding views 
other than these." He might as well have added, "I propose 
to bear false witness." 

No doubt the candidate thought, on balance, that he 
was justified, that The Larger Good would be better served 
were he elected — regardless of how untruthfully he repre- 
sented his position — than were he to stand for his version 
of the truth and go down to defeat. 

This candidate is "a mixed-up kid." His values are topsy- 
turvy, as the saying goes. In an egotism that has no paral- 
lel, he puts his election to office above honesty. Why, asks 
the responsible voter, should I endorse dishonesty by vot- 
ing for such a candidate? He has, on his own say-so, for- 
sworn virtue by insisting on bearing false witness. Does he 
think his ambition for office is right because he needs a 
job? Then let him seek employment where want of prin- 
ciple is less harmful to others. Or, is his notion of right- 
ness based on how much the rest of us would benefit by 
having him as our representative? What? A person with- 


out moral scruple representing us in Congress! The role 
of the legislator is to secure our rights to life, liberty, 
and prop)erty — that is, to protect us against fraud, vio- 
lence, predation, and misrepresentation (false witness) . 
Would our candidate have us believe that "it takes a crook 
to catch a crook"? 

Such righteousness or virtue as exists in the mind of 
man does not and cannot manifest itself in the absence of 
integrity — the honest, accurate reflection in deeds of one's 
beliefs. Without this virtue the other virtues must lie dor- 
mant and unused. What else remains? It is doubtful if 
anything contributes more to the diseased condition of 
society than the diminishing practice of integrity. 

Those of us who attach this much importance to integ- 
rity must perforce construe trimming as evil. Therefore, 
when both candidates for public ofl&ce are judged to be 
trimmers, the one who trims less than the other is often 
regarded as "the lesser of two evils." But, is he really? It 
must be conceded that there are gradations of wrongdo- 
ing: killing is worse than stealing, and perhaps stealing 
is worse than covetousness. At any rate, if wrongdoing is 
not comparative, then it is self-evident that the best of 
us are just as evil as the worst of us; for man is fallible, 
all men! 

D«9r««t of Evil 

While categories of wrongdoing are comparative, it does 
not follow that wrong deeds within any given category of 
evil are comparative. For instance, it is murder whether 


one man is slain, or two. It is stealing whether the amount 
is ten cents or a thousand dollars. And, a lie is a lie whether 
told to one person or to a million. "Thou shalt not kill"; 
"Thou shalt not steal"; "Thou shalt not bear false wit- 
ness" are derived from principles. Principles do not per- 
mit of compromise; they are either adhered to or sur- 

Is trimming comparative? Can one trimmer be less at 
fault than another trimmer? Does the quantity of trim- 
ming have anything whatsoever to do with the matter? 
Or, rather, is this not a question of quality or character? 
To trim is to ignore the dictates of higher conscience; it 
is to take flight from integrity. Is not the candidate who 
will trim once for one vote likely to trim twice for more 
votes? Does he not demonstrate by any single act of trim- 
ming, regardless of how minor, that he stands ready to 
abandon the dictates of conscience for the place he seeks 
in the p>olitical sun? Does not the extent or quantity of 
trimming merely reflect a judgment as to how much trim- 
ming is expedient? 

If the only question at issue is whether a candidate will 
trim at all, then trimming is not comparative; thus, it 
would be incorrect to report, "I cast my ballot for the 
lesser of two evils." Accuracy would require, "I felt there 
was no choice except to cast a ballot for one of two men, 
both of whom have sacrificed integrity for the hope of 

We must not, however, heap all our condemnation on 
candidates who trim. There would be no such candidates 
were it not for voters who trim. Actually, when we find 


only trimmers to vote for, most of us are getting what we 
deserve. The trimmers who succeed in offering them- 
selves as candidates are, by and large, mere reflections of 
irresponsible citizenship — that is, of neglected thinking, 
study, education, vigilance. Candidates who trim and vot- 
ers who trim are each cause and each effect; they feed on 
each other. When the worst get on top it is because there 
are enough of the worst among us to put them there. 

To repeat, when one must choose between men who 
forsake integrity, the situation is tragic, and there is little 
relief at the polling level except as candidates of integrity 
may be encouraged by voters of integrity. Impractical 
idealism? Of course not I Read Edmund Burke, one of the 
great statesmen of all time, addressing his constituency: 

But his [the candidate's] unbiased opinion, his mature judg- 
ment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to 
you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does 
not derive from your pleasure — no, nor from the law and the 
Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse 
of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, 
not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays in- 
stead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion. 


Is it fallacious to believe that responsible citizenship re- 
quires casting a ballot for one or the other of two can- 
didates, regardless of how far the candidates have departed 
from moral rectitude? 

Before trying to arrive at an answer, let us reflect on the 
reason why the so-called duty of casting a ballot, regard- 


less of circumstance, is so rarely questioned. Quite ob- 
viously, the duty to vote is one of those sanctified institu- 
tions, such as motherhood, which is beyond criticism. The 
obligation to vote at any and all elections, whatever the 
issues or personalities, is equated with responsible citizen- 
ship. Voting is deeply embedded in the democratic mores 
as a duty, and one does not affront the mores without the 
risk of scorn. To do so is to "raise the dead": it is to res- 
urrect questions that have been settled once and for all; 
it is to throw doubt on custom, tradition, orthodoxy, the 
folkways I 

Yet any person who is conscious of our rapid drift toward 
the omnipotent state can hardly escape the suspicion that 
there may be a fault in our habitual way of looking at 
things. If the suspicion be correct, then it would be fatal 
never to examine custom. So, let us bring the sanctity of 
voting into the open and take a hard look at it, in a spirit 
of inquiry rather than advocacy. 

Now for the hard look: Where is the American who will 
argue that responsible citizenship would require casting a 
ballot if a Hitler and a Stalin were the opposing candi- 
dates? "Ah," some will complain, "you carry the example 
to an absurdity." Very well, let us move closer to home 
and our own experience. 

Government in the U.S.A. has been pushed far beyond 
its proper sphere. The Marxian tenet, "from each accord- 
ing to ability, to each according to need," backed by the 
armed force of the state, has become established policy. 
This is partly rationalized by something called "the new 
economics." Within this kind of political framework, it 


is to be expected that one candidate will stand for the co- 
ercive expropriation of the earned income of all citizens, 
giving the funds thus gathered to those in groups A, B, 
and C. Nor need we be surprised that his opponent differs 
from him only in advocating that the loot be given to 
those in groups X, Y, and Z. Does responsible citizenship 
require casting a ballot for either of these political plun- 
derers? The citizen has no significant moral choice but only 
an immoral choice in the event he has joined the unholy 
alliance himself and thinks that one of the candidates will 
deliver some of the largess to him or to a group he favors. 
In the latter case, the problem is not one of responsible 
citizenship but of irresponsible looting. 

Th« Duty to Vot« 

Does responsible citizenship require voting for irre- 
sponsible candidates? To ballot in favor of irresponsible 
candidates as though it were one's duty is to misconstrue 
the meaning of duty. To cast a ballot for a trimmer, be- 
cause no man of integrity is offering himself, does as 
much as one can with a ballot to encourage other trim- 
mers to run for office. Can anyone conceive of any element 
of protest in such balloting? To vote for a trimmer goes 
further: it would seem to urge, as strongly as one can at 
the polls, that men of integrity not offer themselves as can- 

What would hapjjen if we adopted as a criterion: Never 
vote for a trimmer! Conceding a generous liberality in de- 
fining trimmers, millions of us would not cast ballots. 


Would the end result of this substantial, nonviolent pro- 
test, this large-scale demonstration of "voting by turning 
our backs," compound our problem? It is difficult to imag- 
ine how it could. For a while we would continue to get 
what we now have: a high percentage of trimmers and 
plunderers in public office, men who promise privileges 
in exchange for ballots — and freedom. In time, however, 
this silent but eloquent refusal to participate might con- 
ceivably improve the situation. Men of integrity and high 
moral quality — statesmen — might show forth and, if so, we 
could add their numbers to the few now in evidence. 

Would a return to integrity by itself solve our problem? 
No, for many men of integrity do not understand freedom; 
or, if they do, are not devoted to it. But it is only among 
men of integrity that any solution can begin to take shape. 
Such men, at least, will do the right as they see the right; 
they lend to be teachable. Trimmers and plunderers, on 
the other hand, are the enemies of morality and freedom 
by definition; their motivations are below the level of prin- 
ciples; they cannot see beyond the emoluments of office.^ 

Here is a thought to weigh: If respect for a candidate's 
integrity were widely adopted as a criterion for casting a 
ballot, millions of us, as matters now stand, would not 
cast ballots. Yet, in a very practical sense, would not those 
of us who protest in this manner be voting? Certainly, 
we would be counted among that growing number who, by 

1 If it l)e concwled that the role of government is to secure certain 
unaliena»)Ie rights, that among them are the right to life, liberty, 
and the pursuit of happiness," by what stretch of the imagination 
can this be achieved when we vote for those who are openly com- 
mitted to unsecuring these rights? 


our conscious and deliberate inaction, proclaim that we 
have no party. What other choice have we at the polling 
level? Would not this encourage men of statesmanlike 
qualities to offer themselves in candidacy? 

The Sanctity of the Ballot 
Why is so much emphasis placed upon voting as a re- 
sponsibility of citizenship?- Why the sanctity attached to 
voting? Foremost, no doubt, is a carry-over from an all-but- 
lost ideal in which voting is associated with making choices 
between honest beliefs, between candidates of integrity. 
We tend to stick with the form regardless of what has 
happened to the substance. Further, this attitude toward 
voting may derive in part from the general tendency to 
play the role of Robin Hood, coupled with a reluctance 
to acknowledge this practice for what it is. Americans, at 
least, have some abhorrence of forcibly taking from the few 
and giving to the many without any sanction whatsoever. 
That would be raw dictatorship. But few people with this 
propensity feel any pangs of conscience if it can be dem- 
onstrated that "the people voted for it." Thus, those who 
achieve political power are prone to seek popular sanc- 
tion for their acts of legal plunder. And, as government 
increases its plundering activities, more and more citizens 
"want in" on the popular say-so. Thus, it is that pressures 

2 Responsibilities of citizenship involve a host of personal atlri- 
butes. first and foremost a duty to one's Maker, duty to self, to fam- 
ily, to neighbors, and so on. Is it not evident, therefore, that voting 
is a mere formality after the fact? It's much too late to be a re- 
sponsible citizen if the resbonsibility hasn't been exercised before elec- 
tion day. Everylx)dy votetl for Khrushchev in the last Russian elec- 
tion! Clearly, that was no evidence of responsible citizenship. 


increase for the extension of the franchise. Time was when 
only property holders could vote or, perhaps, even cared 
to vote. Only in 1920 were women fully enfranchised. Now 
the drive is on to lower the age from 21 to 18, and this 
has already been achieved in some places. 

Frederic Bastiat gave us some good thoughts on this sub- 

If law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, 
and all properties; if law were nothing more than the orga- 
nized combination of the individual's right to self-defense; if 
law were the obstacle, the check, the punisher of all oppres- 
sions and plunder — is it likely that we citizens would then 
argue much about the extent of the franchise? 

Under these circumstances, is it likely that the extent of 
the right to vote would endanger that supreme good, the 
public peace? Is it likely that the excluded classes would re- 
fuse to peaceably await the coming of their right to vote? Is 
it likely that those who had the right to vote would jealously 
defend their privilege? 

If the law were confined to its proper functions, everyone's 
interest in the law would be the same. Is it not clear that, 
under these circumstances, those who voted could not incon- 
venience those who did not vote?^ 

Selection by Lot 
We can, it seems to me, glean from the foregoing that 
there is no moral or political or social obligation to vote 
merely because we are confronted with ballots having 
names and/or issues printed thereon. Is this so-called ob- 
ligation of a citizen to vote, regardless of the ballot presen- 
tations, any more than a camouflage for political madness 

8 See The Law by Frederic Bastiat, pp. 16-17. Obtainable from the 
Foundation for Economic Education (76 pp. $1.00 paper; $1.75 clotn). 


on the rampage? And, further, doesn't this "obligation" 
deny to the citizen the only alternative left to him — not 
to endorse persons or measures he regards as repugnant? 
When presented with two trimmers, how else, at this level, 
is he to protest? Abstinence from ballot-casting would ap- 
pear to be his only way to avoid being untrue to himself. 

If we seek more evidence than we now have as to the sac- 
rosanctity of ballot casting as a citizenship duty, we need 
only observe the crusading spirit of get-out- the-vote cam- 
paigns. One is made to feel like a slacker if he does not 

To rob this get-out-the-vote myth of its glamour, no more 
is required than to compare ballot-casting as a means of 
selecting representatives with a method devoid of all voter 
judgment: selection by lot. Politically unthinkable as it is, 
reflect, just for fun, on your own congressional district. 
Disqualify those under 21, the insane, all illiterates, and all 
convicts.* Write the names of the balance on separate cards 
to put into a mixing machine, and let some blindfolded 
person withdraw one card. Prestol Here is your next rej> 
resentative in Congress, for one term only. After all, how 
can a jjerson qualify to vote if he is not qualified to hold 
the office himself? And, further, it is assumed, he will feel 
duty-bound to serve, as when called for jury duty. 

The first reaction to such a proposal is one of horror: 
"Why, we might get only an ordinary citizen." Compare 
such a prospect with one of two wrongdoers which all too 

* One might like to disqualify everybody who receives government 
aid but. then, who would remain? The very bread we eat is subsi- 
dized. Those who ride on planes or use the mails, and so on, would 
l)C disqualified. 


frequently is our only choice under a two-party, ballot- 
casting system that no longer presupposes any agreement 
on constitutional questions and the aims of government. 
Further, I submit that there is no governmental official to- 
day who can qualify as anything better than an "ordinary 
citizen." How can he possibly claim any superiority over 
those upon whose votes his election depends? And, it is 
of the utmost importance that we never ascribe anything 
more than "ordinary" to any of them. Not one among the 
millions in officialdom is in any degree omniscient, all- 
seeing, or competent in the slightest to rule over the crea- 
tive aspecu of any other citizen. The recognition that a 
citizen chosen by lot could be no more than an ordinary 
citizen would be all to the good. This would automatically 
strip officialdom of that aura of almightiness which so 
commonly attends it; government would be unseated from 
its master's role and restored to its servant's role, a high- 
ly desirable shift in emphasis. 

Reflect on some of the other probable consequences: 

a. With nearly everyone conscious that only "ordinary citi- 
zens" Were occupying political positions, the question of 
who should rule would lose its significance. Immediately, 
we would become acutely aware of the far more impor- 
tant question: What shall be the extent of the rule? 
That we would press for a severe limitation of the state 
seems almost self-evident. 

b. No more talk of a "third party" as a panacea. Political 
parties— now more or less meaningless— would cease to 

c. No more campaign speeches with their promises of how 


much better we would fare were the candidates to s{>end 
our income for us. 

d. An end to campaign fund-raising. 

e. No more self-chosen "saviors" catering to base desires 
in order to win elections. 

f. An end to that type of voting in Congress which has an 
eye more to re-election than to what's right. 

g. The mere prospect of having to go to Congress during a 
lifetime, even though there would be but one chance in 
some 10,000, would completely reorient citizens' atten- 
tion to the principles which bear on government's rela- 
tionship to society. Everyone would have an incentive to 
"bone up," as the saying goes, if for no other reason 
than not to make a fool of himself, just in case! There 
would be an enormous increase in self-directed education 
in an area on which the future of society depends. In 
other words, the strong tendency would be to bring out 
the best, not the worst, in every citizen. 

It would, of course, be absurd to work out the details, 
to refine, to suggest the scope of a selection-by-lot design, 
for it hardly falls within the realm of either probability or 
possibility — at least, not for a long, long time. Further, 
the real problem is at a depth not to be reached by merely 
meddling with the present machinery. 

Why, if one believes selection by lot to be superior to 
the present degraded system, should one not urge immedi- 
ate reform? Let me slightly rephrase an explanation by 
Gustave Le Bon: 

The reason is that it is not within our power to force sud- 


den transformations in complex social organisms. Nature has 
recourse, at times to radical measures, but never after our 
fashion, which explains how it is that nothing is more fatal 
to a people than the mania for great reforms, however ex- 
cellent these reforms may appear theoretically. They would 
only be useful were it possible suddenly to change a whole 
nation of jjeople. Institutions (social organisms) and laws are 
but the outward manifestation or outcome of the underlying 
ideas, sentiments, customs, in short, character. To urge a dif- 
ferent outcome would in no way alter men's character — or the 

Why, then, should selection by lot be so much as men- 
tioned? Merely to let the mind dwell on this intriguing 
ahernative to current political inanities gives all the am- 
munition one needs to refrain from casting a ballot for 
one of two candidates, neither of whom is guided by in- 
tegrity. Unless we can divorce ourselves from this unprin- 
cipled myth, we are condemned to a political competition 
that has only one end: the omnipotent state. This would 
conclude all economic freedom and with it freedom of 
s|>eech, of the press, of worship. And even freedom to vote 
will be quite worthless — as it is under any dictatorship. 

The problems of our times lie much deeper than the 
mechanics of selecting political representation; responsible 
citizenship demands, at the minimum, a personal attention 
to and a constant re-examination of one's own ideas, sen- 
timents, customs. Such scrutiny may reveal that voting for 
candidates who bear false witness is not required of the 
good citizen. At the very least, the idea merits thoughtful 

5 Sec The Crowd by Gustave Le Bon (New York: The Viking Press, 
i960), p. 4. $1.45 paper. 

• CHAPTER 10 • 


My thesis, in simplest terms, is: Let anyone do anything 
he pleases, so long as it is peaceful; the role of government, 
then, is to keep the peace. 

In suggesting that the function of government is only to 
keep the peace, I raise the whole issue between statists or 
socialists, on the one hand, and the devotees of the free 
market, private property, limited government philosophy 
on the other. 

Keeping the peace means no more than prohibiting per- 
sons from unpeaceful actions. This, with its elaborate ma- 
chinery for defining what shall be prohibited (codifying 
the law) , along with the interpretation, administration, 
and enforcement of the law, is all the prohibition I want 
from government — for me or for anyone else. When gov- 
ernment goes beyond this, that is, when government pro- 
hibits peaceful actions, such prohibitions themselves are, 
prima facie, unpeaceful. How much of a statist a person 
is can be judged by how far he would go in prohibiting 
peaceful actions. 

The difference between the socialist and the student of 
liberty is a difference of opinion as to what others should 
be prohibited from doing. At least, we may use this as a 



working hypothesis, think it through, and test its validity. 
If the claim proves valid, then we have come upon a fairly 
simple method for distinguishing between warlike and 
peaceful persons — between authoritarians and libertarians.^ 
But first, let us consider prohibitions in general. 

How many animal species have come and gone no one 
knows. Many thousands survive and the fact of their ex- 
istence, whether guided by instincts or drives or conscious 
choices, rests, in no small measure, on the avoidance of 
self-destructive actions. Thus, all surviving species have, at 
the very minimum, abided by a set of prohibitions — things 
not to do; otherwise, they would have been extinct ere 

Certain types of scorpions, for example, stick to dry 
land; puddles and pools are among their instinctual ta- 
boos. There is some prohibitory force that keeps fish off 
dry land, lambs from chasing lions, and so on and on. 
How insects and animals acquire their built-in prohibi- 
tions is not well understood. We label their reactions in- 
stinctual, meaning that it is not reasoned or conscious 

Man, on the other hand, does not now possess a like set 
of instinctual do-nots, prohibitions. Instead, he must en- 

» Some will make the point that the authoritarian employs com- 
pulsions as well as prohibitions. My thesis is that all compulsions can 
he reduced to prohibitions, thus making it easier to assess authori- 
tarianism. For instance, we say that a Russian is compelled to work 
in the sputnik factory. But it is more accurate to say that he is pro- 
hibited from any other employment; he builds sputniks or starves, 
and freely decides between the restricted choices left to him. So-called 
compulsions by government are, in fact, prohibitions of freedom to 


joy or suffer the consequences of his own free will, his 
own power to choose between right and wrong actions; in 
a word, man is more or less at the mercy of his own im- 
perfect understanding and conscious decisions. The upshot 
of this is that human beings must choose the prohibitions 
they will observe, and the selection of a wrong one may be 
as disastrous to our species as omitting a right one. Sur- 
vival of the human species rests as much on observing the 
correct prohibitions as is the case with any other sp)ecies. 

But in our case, the observance of the correct must-nots 
has survival value only if preceded by a correct, conscious 
selection of the must-nots. When the survival of the hu- 
man race is at stake and when that survival rests on the 
selection of prohibitions by variable, imperfect members 
of that race, the wonder is that the ideological controversy 
is not greater than now. 

When Homo sapiens first appeared he had little language, 
no literature, no maxims, no tradition or history to which 
he could make reference; in short, he jx)ssessed no precise 
and accurate list of things not to do. We cannot explain 
the survival of these early specimens of our kind unless 
we assume that some of the instinctual prohibitions of 
their earlier cousins remained with them during the tran- 
sition period from instinct to some measure of self-knowl- 
edge; for, with resp>ect to many millennia of that earlier 
period, we know nothing of man-formalized prohibitions. 
Then appeared the crude taboos observed by what we now 
call "primitive peoples." These had survival value under 
certain conditions, even though the reasons given for their 
practice might not hold water. 


Three Forms of Persuasion 

If prohibitions are as important as here represented, it 
is well that we reflect on the man-contrived thou-shalt-nots, 
particularly as to the several types of persuasiveness— for 
there can be no prohibition worth the mention unless it is 
backed by some form of persuasion. So far as this explora- 
tion is concerned, there are three forms of persuasion which 
make prohibitions effective or meaningful. I shall com- 
ment on the three forms in the order of their historical 

The Code of Hammurabi, 2000 b.c, is probably the 
earliest of systematized prohibitions. This is considered one 
of the greatest of the ancient codes; it was particularly 
strong in its prohibitions against defrauding the helpless, 
that is, against unpeaceful actions directed at the help- 
less. To secure observance, the "persuasiveness" took the 
form of organized police force. The Columbia Encyclo- 
pedia refers to the retributive nature of the punishment 
meted out as a "savage feature ... an eye for an eye lit- 
erally." Not only is this the oldest of the three forms of 
|)ersuasion employed to effectuate prohibitions and to keep 
the j)eace, but it remains to this day an important means 
of persuasion. 

The next and higher form of persuasion appeared about 
a millennium later — the series of thou-shalt-nots known as 
The Decalogue. Here the backing was not organized police 
force but, instead, the promise of retribution: initially, the 
hope of tribal survival if the commands were obeyed, and 
the fear of tribal extinction were they disobeyed, and, 
later, the hope of heavenly bliss or the fear of hell and 


damnation. It may be said that The Decalogue exemplifies 
moral rather than political law and, also, that its form of 
persuasion advanced from physical force to a type of spir- 
itual influence. We witness in this evolutionary step the 
emergence of man's moral nature. 

The latest and highest form of persuasion is that which 
gives effectiveness to the most advanced prohibition. The 
Golden Rule. As originally scribed, around 500 B.C., it read: 
"Do not do unto others that which you would not have 
them do unto you." What persuasiveness lies behind it? 
Not physical force. And not even such spiritual influences 
as hope and fear. Force and influence give way to a desire 
for righteousness: a sense of justice, regarded as the inmost 
law of one's being. That this is a recently acquired faculty 
is attested to by its rarity. Ever so many people will con- 
cede the soundness of the prohibition, but only now and 
then do we find an individual whose moral nature is ele- 
vated to the point where he can observe this moral im- 
perative in daily living. The individual with an elevated 
moral nature has moved beyond the concept of external 
rewards and punishments to the conviction that virtue 
and excellence are their own reward. 

An EUvatMl Moral Natura 

It is relevant to that which follows to reflect on what is 
meant by an elevated moral nature. To illustrate the lack 
of such a nature: We had a kitchen employee who pilfered, 
that is, she would quietly lift provisions from our larder 
and tote them home to her own. This practice did no of- 


fense to such moral scruples as she possessed; she was only 
concerned lest anyone see her indulge it; nothing was wrong 
except getting caughtl My point is that this individual 
had not yet acquired what is here meant by an elevated 
moral nature. 

What is to distinguish the individual who has an ele- 
vated moral nature? For one thing, he cares not one whit 
about what others see him do. Why? He has a private eye 
of his own, far more exacting and severe than any force 
or influence others can impose: a highly developed con- 
science. Not only does such a person possess a sense of jus- 
tice but he also possesses its counterpart, a disciplinary con- 
science. Justice and conscience are two parts of the same 
emerging moral faculty. It is doubtful that one part can 
exist without the other. 

It seems that individual man, having lost many of the 
built-in, instinctual do-nots of his earlier cousins, acquires, 
as he evolves far enough, a built-in, rational, prohibitory 
ethic which he is compelled to observe by reason of his 
sense of justice and the dictates of his conscience. We re- 
peat, proper prohibitions are just as important to the 
survival of the human species as to the survival of any 
other species. 

Do not do to others that which you would not have 
them do unto you. There is more to this prohibition than 
first glance reveals. Nearly everyone, for instance, will 
concede that there is no universal right to kill, to steal, or 
to enslave — that such behavior could never be tolerated as 
a general practice. But only the person who comprehends 
this ethic in its wholeness, who has an elevated sense of 


justice and conscience, will see clearly why this denies to 
him the right to take the life of another, to relieve any 
person of his livelihood, or to deprive any human being 
of his liberty. And, one more distinction: While there 
are many who will agree that they, personally, should not 
kill, steal, enslave, it is only the individual with an ele- 
vated moral nature who will have no hand in encouraging 
any agency — even government — to do these things on be- 
half of himself or others. He clearly sees that the popular 
expedient of collective action affords no escape from indi- 
vidual responsibility. 

What Shall B« Prohibited? 

Let us now return to the question this essay poses: 
"What shall be prohibited?" For it is the difference of 
opinion as to what should be denied others that highlights 
the essential difference between the collectivists — socialists, 
statists, interventionists, mercantilists, disturbers of the 
peace — and those of the peaceful, libertarian faith. Take 
stock of what you would prohibit others from doing and 
you will accurately find your own position in the ideologi- 
cal line-up. This method can be used to determine anyone's 

The following statement came to my attention as I was 
writing this chapter: 

Government has a positive responsibility in any just society 
to see to it that each and every one of its citizens acquires 
all the skills and all the opportunities necessary to practice 
and appreciate the arts to the Hmit of his natural ability. En- 
joyment of the arts and participation in them are among 


man's natural rights and essential to his full development as 
a civilized person. One of the reasons governments are insti- 
tuted among men is to make this right a reality.2 

It is significant that the author uses the term "its citi- 
zens," the antecedent being government. Such a concep- 
tion is basic to the collectivistic philosophy: We — you and 
I — belong to the state. Of course, if one accepts this statist 
premise — this wholesale invasion of peaceful actions — the 
above quote is sensible enough: it has to do with a detail 
in the state's paternalistic concern for us as its wards. 

But we are on another tack, namely, examining what a 
person would prohibit others from doing. The author just 
quoted suggests no prohibitions, at least, not to anyone who 
fails to read below the surface. He dwells only on what he 
would have the state do for the people. Where, then, are 
the prohibitions? The "civilized" program he favors would 
cost X million dollars annually. From where come these 
millions? The state has nothing except that which it takes 
from the people. Therefore, this man favors that we, the 
jjeople, be prohibited from peacefully using the fruits of 
our own labor as we choose in order that these fruits be 
expended as the state chooses. And take note that this and 
all other socialist-designed prohibitions of peaceful pur- 
suits have police force as the method of persuasion. 

To repeat what was stated in a previous chapter, social- 
ism has a double-barreled definition, one of which is the 
state ownership and/or control of the results of produc- 
tion. Our incomes are the results of production. That por- 
tion of our incomes is socialized which the state turns to 

«Sec The Commonweal, August 23, 1963, p. 494. 


its use rather than our own. It follows, then, that a per- 
son would impose prohibitions on the rest of us to 
the extent that he supports governmental projects such as 
forcibly taking the fruits of our labor to assure others an 
"enjoyment of the arts." 

Only a few, as yet, favor the socialization of the arts and 
the consequent socialization of our incomes, but there are 
ever so many who favor prohibiting our freedom peacefully 
to use the fruits of our own labor in order to: 
— perform our charities for us; 
— protect us from floods, droughts, hurricanes, earthquakes, 

fires, freezes, insects, and other hazards; 
— insure us against illness, accident, old age; 
— subsidize below-cost pricing in air, water, and land trans- 
portation, education, insurance, loans of countless kinds; 
— put three men on the moon (estimated at $40,000,000,- 

000) ; 
— give federal aid of this or that variety, endlessly. 
This is the welfare state side of socialism. 
The above, however, does not exhaust the prohibitions 
thdt the socialists would impose on our peaceful actions. 
For socialism, also, is the state ownership and/or control of 
the means of production. We are now prohibited from: 
— freely planting our own acreage to wheat, cotton, pea- 
nuts, corn, tobacco, rice, even if used only to feed our 
own stock; 
— quitting our own business at will; 
— taking a job at will; 
— pricing our own services (wages) ; 
— delivering first-class mail for pay; 


—selling our own product at our own price, for instance, 

milk, steel, and so on. 
—free entry into business activities, like producing power 

and light in the Tennessee Valley. 

This is the planned economy side of socialism. 

Again, the listing of prohibitions is endless. Harold 
Fleming, author of Ten Thousand Commandments (1951) , 
having to do with prohibitions of just one federal agency 
— The Federal Trade Commission — claims that the book, 
if brought up-to-date, would be titled. Twenty Thousand 

Those who favor the socialization of the means of pro- 
duction would, of course, prohibit profit and even deny the 
validity of the profit motive. 

Pr«serving the Peace 

Of all the prohibitions listed above plus others that are 
implicit in socialism, which do you or others favor? This 
is the appropriate question for rating oneself or others 

Persons devoted to liberty would, it is true, impose cer- 
tain prohibitions on others. They merely note that not all 
individuals have acquired sufficient moral stature strictly 
to observe such moral laws as "Thou shalt not kill" and 
"Thou shalt not steal." There are in the population those 
who will take the lives and the livelihood of others, those 
who will pilfer and those who will get the government to 
do their pilfering for them. Most libertarians would sup- 
plement the moral laws aimed at prohibiting violence to 
another's person (life) or another's livelihood (extension 


of life) .^ Thus they would prohibit or at least penalize 
murder, theft, fraud, misrepresentation. In short, they 
would inhibit or prohibit the destructive or unpeaceful 
actions of any and all! Says the student of liberty, "Freely 
choose how you act creatively, productively, peacefully. 
I have no desire to prohibit you or others in this resf>ect. 
I have no prohibitory designs on you of any kind except 
as you would unpeacefully keep me and others from act- 
ing creatively, productively, {peacefully, as we freely choose." 

Be it noted that the libertarian in his hojjed-for pro- 
hibition of unf>eaceful actions does not have in mind any 
violence to anyone else's liberty, none whatsoever. For this 
reason: The word liberty would never be used by an indi- 
vidual completely isolated from others; it is a social term. 
We must not, therefore, think of liberty as being re- 
strained when fraud, violence, and the like are prohibited, 
for such actions violate the liberty of others, and liberty 
cannot be composed of liberty negations. This is self-evi- 
dent. Thus, any accomplished student of liberty would 
never prohibit the liberty or the peaceful actions of an- 

There we have it: the socialists with the countless pro- 
hibitions of liberty they would impose on others; the stu- 
dents of liberty whose suggested prohibitions arc not op- 
posed to but are in support of liberty and are as few and 

3 How prohibited? Unfortunately, by physical force or the threat 
thereof, the only form of persuasion comprehensible to those lack- 
ing a developed sense of morality and justice. Be it noted, however, 
that this is exclusively a defensive force, called into play only as a 
secondary action, that is, it is inactive except in the instances of in- 
itiated, aggressive force. 


as simple as the two Commandments against the taking of 
life and livelihood. Interestingly enough, it is the social- 
ists, the all-out prohibitionists, who call nonintervening, 
peaceful libertarians "extremists." Their nomenclature 
leaves as much to be desired as does their theory of politi- 
cal economy I 

But the students of liberty and the socialists have one 
position in common: the human situation is not in apple 
pie order; imperfection is rampant. The student of liberty, 
however, observing that human imperfection is universal, 
balks at halting the evolutionary process, such halting be- 
ing the ultimate prohibition implicit in all authoritarian 
schemes. Be the political dandy a Napoleon or Tito or 
one of the home grown variety of prohibitionists, how can 
the human situation improve if the rest of us are not per- 
mitted to grow beyond the level of the political dandy's 
imperfections? Is nothing better in store for humanity 
than this? 

The libertarian's answer is affirmative: There is some- 
thing better! But the improvement must take the form of 
man's growth, emergence, hatching — the acquisition of 
higher faculties such as an improved sense of justice, a re- 
fined, exacting, self-disciplinary conscience, in brief, an 
elevated moral nature. Man-concocted prohibitions against 
this growth stifle or kill it. Human faculties can flower, man 
can move toward his creative destiny, only if he be free to 
do so, in a word, where peace and liberty prevail. 

What should be prohibited? Actions which impair lib- 
erty and peace! 

• CHAPTER 1 1 • 


As I sat contemplating the miraculous make-up of an ordi- 
nary lead pencil, the thought flashed in mind: I'll bet there 
isn't a person on earth who knows how to make even so 
simple a thing as a pencil. If this could be demonstrated, it 
would dramatically portray the miracle of the market and 
would help to make clear that all manufactured things are 
but manifestations of creative energy exchanges; that these 
are, in fact, spiritual phenomena. The lessons in political 
economy this could teach! 

There followed that not-to-be forgotten day at the pencil 
factory, beginning at the receiving dock; covering every 
phase of countless transformations, and concluding in an 
interview with the chemist. 

Had you seen what I saw, you, also, might have struck up 
a warm friendship with that amazing character, I, PENCIL.^ 
Being a writer in his own right, let I, PENCIL speak for 

1 His official name is "Mongol 481." His many ingredients are as- 
sembled, fabricated, and finished by Eberhard Faber Pencil Company. 
Wilkes- Barre, Pennsylvania. 



I AM a lead pencil— the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to 
all boys and girls and adults who can read and write. 

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that's 
all I do. 

You may wonder why I should write this genealogy. 
Well, to begin with, my story is fascinating. I am a mystery 
— ^more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of light- 
ning. But sad to say, I am, like all abundant things, taken 
for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere inci- 
dent and without background. This supercilious attitude 
relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a 
grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist 
without peril. For, as a wise man observed, "We are per- 
ishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders."^ 

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your won- 
der and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you 
can understand me — no, that's too much to ask of anyone — 
if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I 
symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so un- 
happily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can 
leach this lesson better than can an automobile or a jet plane 
or a mechanical dishwasher because — well, because I am 
seemingly so simple. 

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth 
knows how to make me! This sounds fantastic doesn't it? 
Especially when it is realized that there are more than one 
and one-half billion of my kind manufactured in the U.S.A. 

s G. K. Chesterton. 


Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much 
meets the eye — there's some wood, lacquer, the printed label- 
ing, the lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser. 

Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so 
is it impossible for me to name and explain all my anteced- 
ents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to im- 
press upon you the richness and complexity of my back- 

The Raw Materials 

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar 
of straight grain that grows in Northern California and 
Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rofje 
and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting 
the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons 
and their numberless skills that went into the fabrication: 
the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into 
saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it 
through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging 
camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the 
raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of |>ersons 
had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink! 

The logs are shipj)ed to a mill in San Leandro, California. 
Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and 
rails and railroad engines and who construct and install the 
communication systems incidental thereto? These legions 
are among my antecedents. 

Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are 
cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an 
inch in thickness. These are kiln dried and then tinted for 


the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People 
prefer that I look pretty, not a pallid white. The slats are 
waxed and kiln dried again. How many skills went into the 
making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, 
the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other 
things a mill requires? Sweepers in the mill among my an- 
cestors? Yes, and included are the men who poured the con- 
crete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company 
hydroplant which supplies the mill's power. 

Don't overlook the ancestors present and distant who have 
a hand in transporting sixty carloads of slats across the na- 
tion from California to Wilkes-Barre! 

Once in the p>encil factory — $4,000,000 in machinery and 
building, all capital accumulated by thrifty and saving par- 
ents of mine — each slat is given eight grooves by a complex 
machine. Then a second machine lays leads in every other 
slat, applies glue, and places another slat atop — a lead 
sandwich, so to speak. Seven brothers and I are mechanically 
carved from this "wood-clinched" sandwich. 

My "lead" itself — it contains no lead at all — is complex. 
The graphite is mined in Ceylon. Consider these miners and 
those who make their many tools and the makers of the 
paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped and those who 
make the string that ties the sacks and those who put them 
aboard ships and those who make the ships. Even the light- 
house keepers along the way assisted in my birth — and the 
harbor pilots. 

The graphite is mixed with clay from Mississippi, with 
ammonium hydroxide used in the refining process. Then 
wetting agents are added such as sulfonated tallow — animal 


fats chemically reacted with sulfuric acid. After passing 
through numerous machines, the mixture finally appears in 
endless extrusions — as from a sausage grinder — cut to size, 
dried, and baked for several hours at 1,850 degrees Fahren- 
heit. To increase their strength and smoothness the leads 
are than treated with a hot mixture which includes can- 
delilla wax from Mexico, paraffin wax, and hydrogenated 
natural fats. 

My cedar receives six coats of lacquer. Do you know all of 
the ingredients of lacquer? Who would think that the grow- 
ers of castor beans and the refiners of castor oil are a part 
of it? They are I Why, even the processes by which the lac- 
quer is made a beautiful yellow involve the skills of more 
persons than one can enumeratel 

Observe the labeling. That's a film formed by applying 
heat to carbon black mixed with resins. How do you make 
resins and what, pray, is carbon black? 

My bit of metal — the ferrule — is brass. Think of all the 
persons who mine zinc and copjjer and those who have the 
skills to make shiny sheet brass from these products of na- 
ture. Those black rings on my ferrule are black nickel. 
What is black nickel and how is it applied? The complete 
story of why the center of my ferrule has no black nickel 
on it would take pages to explain. 

Then there's my crowning glory, inelegantly referred to 
in the trade as *'the plug," the part man uses to erase the 
errors he makes with me. An ingredient called "factice" is 
what does the erasing. It is a rubber-like product made by 
reacting ra{>e seed oil from Sweden with sulfur chloride. 
Rubber, contrary to the common notion, is only for bind- 


ing purposes. Then, too, there are numerous vulcanizing 
and accelerating agents. The pumice comes from Italy; and 
the pigment which gives "the plug" its color is cadmium 

No One Knows It All 

Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that 
no single person on the face of the earth knows how to make 

Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in 
my creation, no one of whom knows more than a very few 
of the others. Now, you may say that I go too far in relating 
the picker of a coffee berry in far off Brazil and food grow- 
ers elsewhere to my creation; that this is an extreme position. 
I shall stand by my claim. There isn't a single person in all 
these millions, including the president of the pencil com- 
pany, who contributes more than a tiny, infinitesimal bit 
of know-how. From the standpoint of know-how, the only 
difference between the miner of graphite in Ceylon and the 
logger in Oregon is in the type of know-how. Neither the 
miner nor the logger can be dispensed with, any more than 
can the chemist at the factory or the worker in the oil field 
— paraffin being a by-product of petroleum. 

Here is an astounding fact: Neither the worker in the oil 
field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor 
any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the 
one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit 
of metal nor the president of the company performs his 
singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, 
perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there 


are some among this vast multitude who never saw a jjencil 
nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is 
other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of 
these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know- 
how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or 
may not be among these items. 

There is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a 
master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these 
countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of 
such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible 
Hand at work. This is the mystery to which I earlier re- 

''Only God Can Make a It—" 

A poet has said that "only God can make a tree." Why do 
we agree with this? Isn't it because we realize that we our- 
selves could not make one? Indeed, can we even describe a 
tree? We cannot, except in superficial terms. We can say, 
for instance, that a certain molecular configuration mani- 
fests itself as a tree. But what mind is there among men 
that could even record, let alone direct, the constant changes 
in molecular arrangements that transpire in the life span 
of a tree? Such a feat is utterly unthinkable! 

I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, 
zinc, copper, graphite, and so on. But to these miracles which 
manifest themselves in Nature an even more extraordinary 
miracle has been added: the configuration of creative 
human energies — millions of tiny know-hows configurating 
naturally and spontaneously in resjx)nse to human necessity 
and desire and in the absence of any human master-minding. 


Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could 
make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know- 
hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules to- 
gether to create a tree. 

The above is what I meant when writing, "If you can 
become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you 
can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing." 
For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, 
yes, automatically arrange themselves into creative and 
productive patterns in response to human necessity and de- 
mand — that is, in the absence of governmental or any other 
coercive master-minding — then one will possess an absolutely 
essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free men. Free- 
dom is impossible without this faith. Why? Without this 
faith there is nothing to believe in except controlled men. 
It's either a faith in free men and peace — or the lack of it 
and violence. There is no third alternative. 

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative ener- 
gies uninhibited, and thus make it possible for people to or- 
ganize themselves in harmony with this lesson. Let society's 
legal apparatus remove all obstacles as best it can, that is, 
let it keep the peace. Merely permit these creative know- 
hows freely to flow. Have faith in what free men will ac- 
complish. Not only will this faith be confirmed but it has 
been and is confirmed to us daily, in evidence so abundant 
that we seldom take notice of it. I, Pencil, seemingly simple 
though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony 
that faith in free men is a practical faith, as practical as the 
sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth. 

• CHAPTER 12 • 


The socialistic or governmentally planned system pre- 
supposes bureaucrats competent to control the actions of 
others. The market economy, by contrast, rests on the free 
exchange of goods and services among ordinary citizens; it 
doesn't depend on supermen, not even one! 

The Bible informs us that "the meek shall inherit the 
earth." Quite obviously, "the meek" had no reference to the 
Mr. Milquetoasts in society but, rather, to the teachable. 
The teachable — those who aspire to an ever greater under- 
standing — are those with an awareness of how little they 
know. Lest teachableness and inferiority be associated, 
consider a more likely correlation: teachableness and wis- 
dom. Said Socrates, "This man thinks he knows some- 
thing when he does not, whereas I, as I do not know 
anything, do not think I do either." For such acknowledg- 
ments of fallibility, Socrates was acclaimed a wise man. He 
and many others — for instance, Lecomte du Noiiy and 
Robert Milliken, scientists of our time — discovered, as they 
expanded their own consciousness, that they progressively 



exposed themselves to more and more of the unknown. 
Edison's fact-packed, inquiring, ever-curious mind con- 
cluded, "we don't know a millionth of one per cent about 
anything. We are just emerging from the chimpanzee state." 
These teachable persons came to realize how little they 
knew; and that, perhaps, is a measure of wisdom. 

For the student of liberty and of economics, this poses 
an interesting question: Is it possible to have a workable, 
productive economy premised on a society of teachable in- 
dividuals — those who know very litde and know they know 
very little? 

We can assume that such an economy would differ mark- 
edly from a society planned by those who have no question 
about their omniscience, those at the other end of the in- 
tellectual spectrum who see no difficulty at all in their de- 
sign for arranging the lives of everyone else. Like the group 
of seven economists who voiced this authoritarian and un- 
peaceful view: "The Federal government is our only in- 
strument for guiding the economic destiny of the country."^ 

The federal government, in such a role, must be staffed 
largely with those who are unaware of how little they 
know, who have no qualms about their ability to plan and 
regulate the national economic growth, set wages, prescribe 
hours of work, write the price tags for everything, decide 
how much of what shall be produced, expand or contract 
the money supply arbitrarily, set interest rates and rents, 
subsidize with other peoples' earnings whatever activity 
strikes their fancy, lend billions not voluntarily entrusted 
to them, allocate the fruits of the labor of all to foreign 

1 Quoted in First National City Bank Letter, August, 1959, p. 90. 


governments of their choice — in short, decide what shall 
be taken from each Peter and how much of the "take" shall 
be paid to each Paul. 

Government control and ownership of the means and/or 
the results of production is authoritarianism, be it called 
state interventionism, socialism, or communism. It rests on 
the premise that certain persons possess the intelligence to 
understand and guide all human action. It is advo- 
cated by those who sense no lack of omniscience in them- 
selves, by the naive followers of such egotists, by the seek- 
ers of power over others, by those who foresee an advan- 
tage to themselves in these p>olitical manipulations, and 
by those "do-gooders" who fail to distinguish between po- 
lice grants-in-aid and the Judeo-Chrisiian principles of 
charity. All in all, they are a considerable number, but 
still a minority in terms of the tens of millions whose lives 
they would regulate. 

The most important point to bear in mind is that social- 
ism presupposes that government or officialdom is the en- 
dower, dispenser, and the source of men's rights, as well as 
the guide, controller, and director of their energies. This 
is the Supremacy of Egotism: The State is God; we are the 

Th« Egotist ExamiiiMl 
Let us then examine a typical egotist. It matters not 
whom you choose — a professor, a professional {K)litician, a 
Napoleon, a Hitler, a Stalin — but the more pretentious the 
better. (As H. G. Wells put it, "A high-brow is a low-brow 
plus pretentiousness.") Simply admit some supreme ego- 


tist into your mind's eye and take stock of him. Study his 
private life. You will usually discover that his wife, his 
children, his neighbors, those in his hire, fail to respond 
to his dictates in ways he thinks proper.^ This is to say, 
the egotist is frequently a failure in the very situations 
nearest and best known to him. Incongruously, he then con- 
cludes that he is called to manage whole societies — or even 
the world! Fie on anything small enough to occupy an or- 
dinary mani 

Let's further test the knowledge of the egotist. He wants 
to plan production; what does he know about it? Here, 
for example, is a company in the U.S.A. which manufac- 
tures well over 200,000 separate items. Not one person in 
the company knows what these items are, and there is no 
individual on the face of the earth, as I have demon- 
strated,* who has the skills, by himself, to make a single 
one of them. It's a safe bet that the egotist under scrutiny 
has never been closer to this company than a textbook 
description of corporations in general by fellow egotists. 
Yet, he would put this intricate mechanism under the rigid 
control of government and would have no hesitancy at all 
in accepting the post of Chief Administrator. He would 
then arbitrarily allocate and price all raw materials and 
manpower and, after long and complicated statistics of the 
past, arbitrarily allocate and price the more than 200,000 

S Napoleon's domestic affairs were a mess and his numerous family 
drove him to distraction: Hitler was an indifferent paper hanger; 
Stalin tried first theology and then train robbery before he elected 
bureaucracy and dictatorship; many bureaucrats charged with great 
affairs have no record of personal success. 

sSce Chapter 11. 


finished products, most of which he never knew existed. In- 
volved in the operations of this company alone — a mere 
fraction of the American economy — are incalculable hu- 
man energy exchanges, but the egotist would manage these 
with a few "big man" gestures! Such cursory attention he 
would find necessary for, bear in mind, he also would have 
under his control the lives, livelihoods, and activities of 
nearly two hundred million individuals not directly as- 
sociated with this company. 

Next, what does the egotist know about exchange? In a 
specialized or division-of-labor economy like ours, exchange 
cannot be carried on by primitive barter. It is accom- 
plished by countless interchanges interacting on one another 
with the aid of a generally accepted medium of exchange. 
The socialistic philosophy of the egotists presupposes that 
there are persons competent to regulate and control the 
volume and value of money and credit. Yet, surely no one 
person or committee is any more competent to manipulate 
the supply of money and credit to attain a definite end than 
he or a committee is able to make an automobile or a 
lead pencil! 

An economy founded on nonexistent know-it-allness is 
patently absurd! 

But, can there be a sensible rational economy founded 
on the premise of know-next-to-nothingness? An economy 
that would run rings around socialism? In short, is there 
a highly productive way of life which presupposes no hu- 
man prescience, no infallibility, nothing beyond an aware- 
ness that it is simply not man's to pattern others in his 
own image? There is such a way! 


For the Teachable 

Contrary to socialism, this way of life is for teachable 
people who concede their fallibility— and it denies that 
government, staffed by fallible people, is the source of men's 
rights. It holds, as developed earlier, that rights to life, 
livelihood, and liberty are endowments of the Creator and 
that the purpose of government is to secure these rights. 
When Creativity is assumed to exist over and beyond the 
conscious mind of man, a whole new concept of man's re- 
lationship to man emerges. Man, once he conceives of him- 
self in this setting, knows that he is not really knowledge- 
able but is, at best, only teachable. The greatest conscious 
fact of his life is his awareness of the Unknown. 

To illustrate, let us observe how such a person "builds" 
his own house. He does not think of himself as actually 
having built it. No man living could do that. He thinks 
of himself as having done only an assembly job. He is 
aware of numerous preconditions, two of which are: 

1. The provisioning of his materials done exclusively by 
others, the unbelievable complexity of which I tried to ex- 
plain in the previous chapter. 

2. A reasonable absence of destructive or unpeaceful ac- 
tions. No thieves stole his supplies. His suppliers had not de- 
frauded him nor had they misrepresented their wares. Violence, 
like cocrcively keeping others from working where they free- 
ly chose (strikes) or like coercively keeping others from freely 
exchanging the products of their labor (protectionism) had 
not succeeded in denying these services to him. In short, inter- 
ferences with creative, peaceful efforts and exchanges had not 
reached the point where a house was impossible.. 

The teachable man, the one who knows how little he 
knows, is aware that creative energies, and creative energy 


exchanges, work miracles if unhampered. The evidence is 
all about him. There are his automobile, the coffee he 
drinks, the meat he eats, the clothes he wears, the sym- 
phony he hears, the books he reads, the paintings he en- 
joys, the velvet he touches and, above all, the insights or 
inspiration or ideas that come to him — from where he does 
not know. 

The teachable person looks with awe upon all creation.* 
He agrees that "only God can make a tree." And he also 
understands that, in the final analysis, only God can build 
a house. Nature, Creation, God — use your own term — if 
not interfered with, will combine atoms into molecules 
which, in a certain configuration, will form a tree, in an- 
other a blade of grass, in still another a rose — mysteries upon 
mysteries! And, there are demonstrations readily apparent 
to the teachable person that the creative energies of men, 
when not interfered with, configurate through space and 
time — and in resf)onse to human necessity and aspiration 
— to form houses, symphonies, food, clothes, airplanes . . . 
manufactured things in endless profusion. 

The teachable person is likely to be aware of some won- 
derful cosmic force at work — a drawing, attracting, mag- 
netic power — attending to fjerpetual creation. He may well 
conceive of himself as an agent through whom this p>ower 
has the potentiality of flowing and, to the extent this oc- 
curs, to that degree does he have an opportunity to share 

* "If I may coin a new English word to translate a much nicer old 
Greek word, 'wanting-to-knowit-ness' was their characteristic: wonder 
. . . was the mother of their philosophy." The Challenge of the Greek, 
by T. R. Glover (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1941), pp. 6-7. 


in the processes of creation. As agent, his psychological 
problem is to rid himself of his own inhibitory influences 
—fear, superstition, anger, and the like— in order that 
this power may freely flow. He knows that he cannot dic- 
tate to it, direct it, or even get results by commanding, 
"Now I shall create a symphony" or "Now I shall dis- 
cover a cure for the common cold" or "Now I shall invent 
a way of impressing upon others how little they know." He 
is quite certain that he must not thwart this power as it 
pertains to his own personal being. 

L«t En«rgy Flow Freely 

Society-wise, the teachable human being, the one who 
conceives of himself as agent through whom this mysteri- 
ous, creative power has the potentiality of flowing, con- 
cedes that what applies to him must, perforce, apply to 
other human beings; that this same power has the poten- 
tiality of flowing through them; that his own existence, 
livelihood, and opportunity to serve as an agency of that 
power depends on how well these others fare creatively. 
He realizes that he can no more dictate its flow in others 
than in himself. He knows only that he must not thwart it 
in others and that it is to his interest and theirs, and to the 
interest of all society, that there be no thwarting of this 
force in anyone. Leave this power alone and let it work its 

Creative action cannot be induced by any form of au- 
thoritarianism, be the commands directed at oneself or at 
others. However, any idiot can thwart these actions in him- 


self or in others precisely as he can thwart the forces of 
creation from manifesting themselves as a tree. He can 
prevent a tree from being, but he cannot make it be. Coer- 
cive force can only inhibit, restrain, penalize, destroy. It 
cannot create! 

The teachable individual, being {>eaceful, imp>oses no 
inhibitions, restraints, or {penalties on creative actions. He 
leaves them free to wend their miraculous courses. 

The man who knows how little he knows would like to 
see the removal of all destructive obstacles to the flow of 
creative energy and energy exchanges. But, even this, he 
doesn't quite know how to accomplish. He would rely 
mostly on an improved understanding of the Golden Rule, 
the Ten Commandments, and other consistent ethical and 
moral principles. He hopes that more and more persons 
eventually will see that even their own self-interest is never 
served by impairing the creative actions of others, or living 
off them as parasites. 

In summary, then, the teachable person is content to leave 
creative energies and their exchanges untouched; and he 
would rely primarily on ethical precepts and practices to 
keep these energy circuits free of destructive invasion. The 
governmental apparatus would merely assist these precepts 
and practices by defending the lives and property of all 
citizens equally; by protecting all willing exchanges and 
restraining all unwilling exchanges; by suppressing and pe- 
nalizing all fraud, all misrepresentation, all violence, all 
predatory practices; by invoking a common justice under 
written law; in short, by keeping the peacel 

Very well. So far, in theory, creative energies or actions 


and their exchanges are left unhampered. Destructive ac- 
tions are self-disciphned or, if not, are restrained by the 
societal agency of law and defensive force. Is that all? Does 
not the person who is aware of how little he knows have 
to know a lot of economics? 

How Much Must B« Known? 

The man mentioned previously, who "built" his own 
house, has about as much economic understanding as is 
necessary. He reflects on all the countless antecedent ser- 
vices which he assembled into a finished home. Original- 
ly, all of these items came from Nature. They were there 
when the Indians foraged this same territory. There was 
no price on them in their raw state — they were for free, so 
to speak. Yet, he paid — let us say — $10,000 for them. 

What was the payment for? Well, when we slice through 
all the economic terms, he paid for the human action that 
necessarily had to be applied to things of the good earth. 
He paid for actions and energies which he himself did not 
possess, or, possessing, did not choose to exert. Were he 
limited to his own energies to bring about the services an- 
tecedent to his assembly of them, he could not have built 
such a home in a thousand lifetimes. 

These human actions for which he paid took several 
forms. Generalizing, his 1 10,000 covered salaries and wages 
that had been paid for judgment, foresight, skill, initiative, 
enterprise, research, management, invention, physical ex- 
ertion, chance discovery, know-how; interest that had been 
paid for self-denial or waiting; dividends that had been 


paid for risking; rent that had been paid for locational ad- 
vantage — in short, all of the $10,000 covered payments for 
one or another form of human action. Literally millions of 
individuals had a hand in the process. 

The major economic problem — the root of economic 
hassles — reduced to its simplest terms, revolves around the 
question of who is going to get how much of that $10,000. 
How is economic justice to be determined? What part shall 
go to the grower of soybeans, to the investor in a saw 
mill, to the man who tends the machine that pours nails in- 
to wooden kegs, to the inventor of the machine, to the 
owner of the paint plant? Who or what shall determine 
the answers? This is the economic question of questions. 

Th« Market Knows B«sf 

How much economics does one have to know to settle, in 
one's own mind, how and by whom economic justice shall 
be rendered? He has to know and fully comprehend only 
this: Let the payment for each individual's contribution be 
determined by what others will offer in willing exchange. 
That's enough of economics for those who know they 
know not.* 

This simple theory of value, the greatest discovery in 
economic science — never formalized until the year 1870— 
is known as the marginal utility theory of value. It also 

5 There are some who will contend that one must understand money, 
the medium of exchange. This, also, is an impossible requirement. For 
extended comments on this point of view, see my Covrmment: An 
Ideal Concept (Irvington-on-Hudson. N. Y.: Foundation for Economic 
Education. Inc.. 1954). pp. 80-91. 


goes by two other names: "the subjective theory of value" 
and "the free market theory of value." Testimony to its 
simplicity was given by Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk, perhaps 
its greatest theoretician: 

And so the intellectual labor that people have to perform 
in estimating subjective value is not so astounding as may 
appear . . . incidenully, even if it were a considerably greater 
task than it actually is, one could still confidently entrust it 
to "John Doc and Richard Roe." . . . For centuries, long 
before science set up the doctrine of marginal utility, the 
common man was accustomed to seek things and abandon 
things ... he practiced the doctrine of marginal utility be- 
fore economic theory discovered it.* 

The labor theory of value held scholarly sway prior to 
I his free market theory. It contended that value was de- 
termined by the amount of effort expended or fatigue in- 
curred. For example, some {>ersons make mud pies, others 
mince pies. The same effort, let us assume, is expended in 
the preparation of each. Under the labor theory of value the 
mud pie makers should receive the same return for their 
efforts as the mince pie makers. The only way to accomplish 
this — consumers being unwilling to exchange the fruits of 
their labor for mud pies — is for the government to subsi- 
dize the mud pie makers by taking from the mince pie 
makers. Karl Marx elaborated upon and helped systematize 
this theory — governments taking from the productive and 
subsidizing the less productive. 

•From pages 203-4. Vol. II, Capital and Interest by Eugen von 
B6hm-Bawcrk (South Holland, Illinois: The Libertarian Press, 1959). 
This volume may be the best treatise on the marginal utility theory 
of value extant. The 3-volume set, $25.00. Available through the 
Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., Irvington-on-Hudson, N. Y. 


The labor theory of value, proved over and over again 
to be the enemy of both justice and sound economics, 
nonetheless continues to gain in popular acceptance. Emo- 
tional reactions to effort expended and fatigue incurred 
do not readily give way to reason. Sentimental thoughts 
such as "the poor, hard-working farmers" set the f>olitical 
stage for agricultural subsidies. Similarly, sympathies which 
emanate from such outmoded and erroneous reflections as 
"the down-trodden laboring man" condition most f>eople 
to accept the coercive powers allowed labor unions. 

Practice of the labor theory of value is rationalized by 
spenders, inflationists, Keynesians, egotists, on the ground 
that it puts purchasing power in the hands of those who 
will spend it. As set forth earlier, this man<oncocted sys- 
tem of forcibly controlling creative human action — inter- 
ventionism, socialism, communism — presupposes all-know- 
ing bureaucrats; but, to date, not a single one has been 
found — not even a reasonable facsimile thereof. 

The free market, on the other hand, is for the teachable, 
who know their own limitations, who feel no compulsions 
to play God, and who put their faith in voluntary, willing 
exchange — a manner of human relationships that miracu- 
lously works economic wonders for all without requiring 
infallibility of anyone. 

• CHAPTER 13 • 


When a person does not know how little he knows, he may 
try to change a room's temperature by monkeying with the 
thermometer; or, equally absurd, he may tamper with 
prices to control the market. 

Wherever there are people, there will be a market of 
some sort. The market can no more be eliminated than 
can its primary components — production and exchange. 

Further, the market, be it rigged or free, is an enormous- 
ly complex computer. It receives the data fed into it and 
gives off signals in the form of prices. Keep in mind, how- 
ever, that a computer cannot exercise judgment; its answers 
merely reflect the data it receives; feed it wrong data and 
its pricing signals will be misleading or, as they say in the 
computer profession, "GIGOl": Garbage In, Garbage Out} 

Consider, first, the free market computer, as if it really 
existed. Billions of data flow into it continuously. The data 
are composed of every wish, desire, fancy, whim, like, and 
dislike of every f>erson on earth. Included in the data are 
all efficiencies, inefficiencies, inventions, discoveries, as well 

1 The pros pronounce it guy-go. 


as the ref)orts of all rising and falling supplies and de- 
mands. All degrees and variations of competitive forces 
and all bidding and asking prices of all goods and ser- 
vices are grist for the mill. Even people's anticipation of 
how a flood or a drought or a freeze might modify supply 
are automatically admitted, as are expectations of mana- 
gerial competence or failure or the effects of a President's 
ideas or the state of his health or whatever. 

Th« ld«al fr— Market 

The free market computer gives accurate answers in 
prices, signaling to all would-be entrepreneurs to get into 
production or get out, to step up or diminish particular 
economic activities. Supply and demand thus tend, auto- 
matically, toward equilibrium. The free market computer 
is truly free: its accurately instructive answers are founded 
on free exchange data; its services are free, with no more 
cost than the sun's energy; it frees each and all of us from 
the impossible task of assembling the billions upon bil- 
lions of data behind our daily decisions. 

The free market computer has never been permitted to 
function on a world-wide basis. It has had only partial, 
regional, short-run trials. Certainly, one of the most com- 
prehensive tests occurred in the U.S.A. during the century 
beginning about 1830. Perhaps the small Crown Colony of 
Hong Kong affords the best test at this moment in his- 
tory. We do know from a study of the evidence, as well as 
from a priori reasoning, that the less the free market com- 
puter is interfered with or "rigged" the better do people 
prosp>er, the more nearly universal is economic well-being. 


The term GIGO is never applicable to the free market 
computer; the complex data are truthful, unrigged ex- 
pressions of the universal economic situation in its con- 
tinuous ebb and flow, and the price signals, ever chang- 
ing, arc accurate responses thereto. 

Th« U.S.A. Market 

Consider, second, something quite different, the U.S.A. 
market computer as it presently exists. Many of the data 
are not derived from free exchange and free choice; they 
are politically rigged. Numerous prices for goods and ser- 
vices are arbitrarily set by government or by politically 
powerful pressure groups: minimum wages, maximum rent, 
ceilings on earnings, interest, transportation charges, and 
so on. What and how much one may plant on his own land 
is more and more determined not by free choice but by 
political decrees backed by police force. The fruits of one's 
own labor are increasingly siphoned off for urban re- 
newal, paying farmers not to farm, putting men on the 
moon, subsidies, below-cost pricing of items such as TVA 
electricity rates, and countless other pet projects. Unpeace- 
ful interventions in the market! 

But the signals given off by the present U.S.A. com- 
puter reflect the data we force-feed it — in the same man- 
ner as any computer. No more judgment is exercised by one 
than by the other. Many of the data of the U.S.A. market 
computer are erroneous; the price signals, as stop and go 
signs, are and must be to some extent misleading; there is 
a generous f>ortion of GIGO! 


When entrepreneurs act on misleading signals, they drain 
or glut the market; that is, they create shortages or sur- 
pluses — phenomena of the rigged, not the free, market. 
To illustrate: Suppose you were in charge of the boiler 
room supplying a 70 degree climate to a factory and that 
you adjusted the heat supply by a thermometer's signals. 
Now, imagine that someone changes the calibrations so 
that an actual 70 degree temperature now registers 80 de- 
grees on the distorted scale. There would soon be a shortage 
of heat in the factory. Or if the actual 70 degrees were 
made to register 60 degrees, you would send the factory 
a surplus of heat. Monkeying with the thermometer — rig- 
ging, it is called — creates shortages or surpluses. 

Observe what happens to the market when the com- 
puter's signals (prices) are rigged. Mink coats, for example, 
are not now in short supply. They are on display in stores 
throughout the nation. But let the government decree that 
the ceiling price on mink coats shall not exceed $25 and 
immediately there will be a shortage of perhaps 50,000,000 
mink coats. Why? Because no one wants to sell them for 
such a price and because there are that many women who 
have $25 and desire a mink coati For evidence, merely re- 
call OPA days. 

Next, observe how rigging can and docs bring about 
surpluses: Let the government decree "support prices," that 
is, guaranteed prices over and beyond what a free market 
computer would signal, and entrepreneurs will produce 
more than the market will take. This explains why we 
now cram into ships, warehouses, granaries, and whatever 
kind of storage government can lay its hands on, some 


1,330,000,000 bushels of wheat, more than 205,000,000 
pounds of butter, 289,000 pounds of tung oil, 335,000,000 
bales of cotton, 1,700,000 gallons of turpentine, 34,140,400,- 
000 pounds of grain sorghum, 1,412,193,000 bushels of corn 
—the list grows wearisome!' 

Th« Russian Market 

Consider, third, something very much different, the Rus- 
sian market computer as it now exists. It is out of kilter 
and noninstructive simply because practically all data are 
rigged, riggers being in complete control over there. Free 
choice is at a minimum. What can be produced and what 
consumed is politically dictated by the riggers. Prices, too, 
are rigged; for in a command economy it is not possible 
for prices to be set in any other manner. Thus, the Rus- 
sian market computer is fed "garbage in" on so grand a 
scale that price signals are quite useless as production 

The Russians, so far as we can learn, have admitted the 
free market computer to operate in one tiny segment of 
their economy. A small fraction of the tillable land is (in 
effect) privately owned, and freedom of choice is granted 
as to what's produced and how it is priced. The results, 
while fantastic, come as no surprise to anyone with an 
awareness of how freedom principles work when put in 
practice: Private plots make up only 3 to 5 per cent of 
Russia's farm land, yet they yield a product astonishingly 

« See Agricultural Statistics (U.S. Government Printing Office, Wash- 
ington. D. C, 196s), p. 638. 


out of prof>ortion to that small fraction. In 1959, some 47 
per cent of the USSR's meat came from this fraction of 
land, 49 per cent of the milk, 82 per cent of the eggs, 65 
per cent of the potatoes, and 53 per cent of the vege- 

Within this limited area of choice for the Russians, eco- 
nomic calculation is made easy. They do not know (nor 
need they know) a thing about the complex data that is 
fed into their little, isolated market computer. By merely 
observing a few of its signals — prices — as do those of us 
privileged to live in freer societies, they know, to some 
extent, what and what not to produce; that is, they are 
automatically informed as to the best allocation of their 
own scarce resources. Aside from this islet of agricultural 
freedom, economic calculation in Russia is out of the ques- 
tion.^ As a consequence, nothing better than political cal- 
culation — bungling guesstimates — is possible. 

The Russian political riggers, in making their guessti- 
mates, do take peeks at the other market computers in 
the world, most of these others being more or less instruc- 
tive, depending on the extent to which they are founded 
on free exchange.' For instance, if to remove our own wheat 

*The Wall Street Journal, May 17, 1961. p. it. Alio tee "Private 
Farming Big Aid lo Sovicc." The New York Times, November t8, i960. 

* Professor Ludwig von Mises deserves the greatest praise for logi- 
cally demonstrating that the socialist community is incapable of eco- 
nomic calculation. See his Socialism (New Haven: Yale University 
Press. 195s). pp. iijitt. $10. Refer also to "Soviet Economisu Part 
Company witn Marx" by Dr. Trygve J. B. Hoff. The Freeman, Sep- 
tember, i960. 

s Aleksy Wakar and Janusz Zielinski. leading profe»on of the Cen- 
tral Planning School of Poland, astonishingly for socialisu. say. "The 
best methods of producing a given output cannot be chosen [by social- 


glut, brought on by our own political rigging, we offer our 
surplus at a price below which the Russian Commissars 
guess it will cost them to raise wheat by slave labor, the 
Commissars will effect some sort of a deal with us. By so 
doing they can then force their own wheat-growing slave 
labor into other endeavors, perhaps into producing mili- 
Ury hardware. But the signals from these other market 
computers are not received automatically into the Russian 
market computer, for it is jammed; if you like, it is sur- 
rounded by an Iron Curuin. The Commissars, alone, can 
hear the signals; but, not being producers, what can they 
do with them? Any market computer, to function perfect- 
ly, must automatically receive all complex data, and this 
it impossible unless there be freedom in exchange. This 
prime requirement is not met in the Russian situation 
since the free How of goods and services across the borders 
is no more than a trickle. 

Fr««dom in Exchang* 
To repeat, the free market computer renders its services 
for free, and it frees us from the impossible task of col- 
lecting billions of flowing data but — and this is the all- 

ist methods of calculation] but arc taken from outside the [socialist] 
system . . . i.e.. methods of production used in the past, or so-called 
'advanced' methods of production, usually taken from the practice of 
more advanced countries and used as data for plan-buildtng by the 
[socialist] country under consideration." (Italics mine.) See The Journal 
of the American Economic Association, March, 1963. 

Anyone's concept of correct economic theory will be improved by 
grasping the significance of economic calculation. For a clear, simple, 
and excellent explanation see "Play Store Economics" by Dean Rus- 
sell. The Freeman, January, 1964. 


important point — freedom in exchanges is an absolute, un- 
modifiable condition. Freedom in exchanges is the key, 
the secret; a secret, I must add, which is all too well kept! 

The secret reveals itself easily enough if we will conceive 
of human action for what it really is: human energy in 
motion — a flowing performance. Potential human energy is 
enormous, and all creative human energy is incalculably 
varied; there are as many variations as there are persons; 
no two of these creative energies are alike. However, po- 
tential, creative, human energy, to be useful, must become 
kinetic, flowing, performing energy. But it cannot flow 
except as it is freely exchangeable.* Imagine anyone trying 
to exist exclusively by his own energy. Were each of us 
dependent entirely on this type of creative energy, all of 
ui would perish. 

To repeat, the reason that the Russian market computer 
does not and cannot receive accurate data is because the 
Soviets do not allow freedom in exchange, that is, they 
do not let world prices freely interact on and influence 
Russian prices. Their authoritarianism cuts off the current, 
so to speak. Only a free market price carries an accurate 

• Free exchange can never be wholly iquelched. regardless of how 
powerful the dictatorship. People, to live, will smuggle and form black 
markets. For instance, it is generally supposed that the useful goods 
and services in Russia, such as they are. originate with socialism — the 
Kremlin's rigging. Nothing of the sort! The Russian people are burst- 
ing with creative energy. What actually is witnessed in the production 
of useful goods and services is but the result of pent-up creative 
energy forcing its way through the political rigging. The Kremlin, 
being compoxd of political riggers and not economists, erroneously 
concludes that the escaping, free energy is its accomplishment! In- 
deed, if it were not for the fact that most Russians, in most of their 
dealings, "cheat" against the theoretical communist system, they would 
all starve to death. 


and instructive message for future production and ex- 

The point is clear enough if we keep in mind that only 
free exchange data accurately reflect value, the value of 
any good or service being what others will give for it in 
willing exchange. Data founded on unwilling or unfree 
(rigged) exchange carry no value messages; it is "garbage 
in" and, thus, valueless. 

A Russian or Polish Commissar, for instance, can be 
informed of U.S.A. prices — signals from the U.S.A. market 
computer — in a fraction of a second. Yet, if these prices 
of ours arc founded on rigged data and fed into our own 
market computer — such as our wheat prices — the rapid 
communication is nothing but the speedy communication 
of GIGO. Only if U.S.A. prices are based on free exchange 
do they have useful instruction to us, to the Russians, or 
to any other people. To confirm this important point, re- 
flect on how completely we dismiss Russian prices. They 
have no instruction for us whatsoever, indeed, not even for 
the Russians themselves — except in the case of their little, 
free market plots. The distinction between Russian and 
U.S.A. price signals is that theirs are founded entirely on 
GIGO, ours only partially so. Were giant Russia a free 
port, like little Hong Kong, all the world would look to 
Russian prices for instruction. When we wish to know the 
real value of gold, for instance, we ask its price where it 
is freely traded, where there is freedom in exchange. Were 
all the world's gold freely exchangeable, the market com- 
puter would give us a precise, accurate, and instructive 
answer as to its value. (This is not to say that govern- 


mental intervention has no effect on prices; it most cer- 
tainly has. But the effect is in the form of misleading, not 
instructive, prices and value.) 

Before presenting some work-a-day examples of the mar- 
ket-as-computer concept, it is relevant to ask how many 
market computers presently exist. Were there no rigging 
at all in our or any other country — that is, were freedom 
in exchange universal — there would be but a single, uni- 
versal market computer. All the data flowing into it would 
be accurate as would the signals in the form of prices. 
However, economic understanding is and always has been 
faulty; thus, no such market computer has ever existed nor 
is it likely to. The ideal has never been permitted; so, in 
its stead, we have literally thousands of market computers, 
the GIGO factor ranging from fractional to complete. If 
economic understanding advances, the number of market 
computers will lessen and their performance will improve. 
We can hope for nothing more than moving toward the 

Th« Provisioning of Paris 
Now for an example by Frederic Bastiat, a remarkably 
astute economic observer. Certainly, the French market 
computer of 1846- was considerably rigged; yet, relative to 
others at that time and since, it was in good working order. 
Wrote Bastiat: 

On entering Paris, which I had come to visit. I said to my- 
self — Here are a million of human beings who would all die 
in a short time if provisions of every kind ceased to flow 
towards this great metropolis. Imagination is baffled when it 


tries to appreciate the vast multiplicity of commodities which 
must enter tomorrow through the barriers in order to preserve 
the inhabitants from falling prey to the convulsions of famine, 
rebellion, and pillage. And yet all sleep at this moment, and 
their peaceful slumbers are not disturbed for a single instant 
by the prospect of such a frightful catastrophe. On the other 
hand, eighty provinces have been labouring to-day, without 
concert, without any mutual understanding, for the provision- 
ing of Paris. How does each succeeding day bring what is 
wanted, nothing more, nothing less, to so gigantic a market? 
What, then, is the ingenious and secret powef which governs 
the astonishing regularity of movements so complicated, a 
regularity in which everybody has implicit faith, although 
happineu and life itself are at stake? That power is an abso- 
lute principle, the principle of freedom in transactions. . . . 
In what situation, I would ask, would the inhabitants of Paris 
be if a minister should take it into his head to substitute for 
this power the combinations of his own genius, however su- 
perior we might suppose them to be — if he thought to sub- 
ject to his supreme direction this prodigious mechanism [mar- 
ket computer], to hold the springs of it in his hands, to de- 
cide by whom, or in what manner, or on what conditions, 
everything needed should be produced, transported, exchanged, 
and consumed? Truly, there may be much suffering within 
the walls of Paris — poverty, despair, perhaps starvation, caus- 
ing more tears to flow than ardent charity is able to dry up; 
but I affirm that it is probable, nay, that it is certain, that 
the arbitrary intervention of government [rigging] would mul- 
tiply infinitely those sufferings, and spread over all our fel- 
low<itizens those evils which at present affect only a small 
number of them.^ 

Few of us, when viewing Paris or New York City or our 
home town, ever discern the miracle wrought by freedom 
in exchange as clearly as did Bastiat. Nor do we readily 

T This extract is from Social Fallacies, Register Publishing Company 
edition. 1944. 


see that such a fantastic p>erformance as the automatic 
provisioning of Paris could never be turned over to a 
government official and his minions without disaster. These 
people from the eighty French provinces were unaware of 
what the other millions of producers and distributors were 
doing; they had no firsthand knowledge of the shifting in 
tastes and fancies of Parisian consumers. Of the count- 
less data, these anonymous producers knew nothing. All 
they did was to let their own self-interest respond to the 
market computer's relatively few signals: prices. Their 
instructions were received from prices. To the extent that 
the prices were reflections of free exchange data, to that ex- 
tent were the instructions faithful guides. To the extent 
that the data were rigged, to that extent were the instruc- 
tions misleading. That the data were more right than 
wrong is self-evident: the million people in Paris were 
provisioned with no more thought on the part of each than 
you or I give to the supplying of a restaurant in Hong 
Kong where we plan to dine next month. 

Nor need we confine our reflections to such miracles as 
the provisioning of cities. What about producing a jet 
plane or an automobile or a ball-p>oint pen? No single 
person on earth knows how to make any one of these or 
tens of thousands of other fabricated items by which we 
live. The participants in the making of a cup of coffee — 
growers, makers of bags, and so on by the thousands — are 
not, by and large, even aware of each other's existence. 
Thev do not work as a coffee committee or in conscious 
concert. With no attention to or thought of each other, 
these countless producers and distributors merely watch 


prices: stop and go signals from the market computers. 
Prestol We who want coffee have it on our tables with 
no more part in it than the brewing, and voluntarily part- 
ing with a fraction of our income: willing or free ex- 

No Rigging in ¥r— Marlcet 

The market is a computer; the rigged market is GIGO to 
the extent that it is rigged and, thus, to that extent, im- 
perfect. The free market is the perfect computer. This is 
not the claim of a partisan but hard fact. It merely means 
that values — as determined by willing exchange — are com- 
puted freely, that is, without intervention, distortion, rig- 
ging. To assert that the free market is the perfect com- 
puter is as axiomatic as asserting that a flow is perfectly 
free if wholly unobstructed. 

Computers, with the speed of light, give impersonal 
answers or signals from the data fed to them. Men, like 
mice gnawing among the labyrinth of wires in a telephone 
exchange, can and do rig and, thus, distort, disfigure, and 
destroy many of the data. The motives for so doing include 
protection against competition, a belief that value is de- 
termined by the amount of effort exerted, a falsely presumed 
ability to run the lives of others, a conviction that the com- 
munistic maxim "from each according to ability, to each 
according to need" can be administered by force without 
injustice, the insistence on feathering one's own nest at 
the expense of others, and countless additional motiva- 
tions. But, regardless of the reasons, the rigger imposes his 
errant ways on all the rest of us; he plays authoritarian I 


The free market computer is the Golden Rule in eco- 
nomic practice. Value has nothing whatsoever to do with 
effort exerted; value is what others will willingly exchange 
for one's goods or services. The market respects the wishes 
and performances of everyone impersonally. There are no 
favorites. It is the only means there is for the automatic 
and speedy allocation of scarce resources; that is, it is the 
method for bringing a scarce and high-priced good or ser- 
vice within the reach of those whose incomes are lowest. It 
is the miracle worker, demonstrated daily, over and over 
again, before our eyes. 

A free market, of course, is out of the question except 
among a people who prize liberty and know the imperatives 
of liberty. Liberty, I must rep)eat, is not a one-man term 
but, like the free market, finds its complete realization in 
universal practice: every man on earth is bom with as much 
right to his life, his livelihood, his liberty as I. No one can 
rationally prize liberty for himself without wishing liberty 
for others. 

To realize liberty, to tear ourselves loose from political 
rigging, to unshackle creative energy, to achieve freedom in 
transactions, does not, as many contend, require that the 
individual wait until all others take these step>s in unison 
with him. Implicit in such a council of delay is the taking 
of no steps by anyone, and this is fatal to liberty. An indi- 
vidual can stand for liberty all by himself; a nation can 
practice liberty to its own glory and strength though all 
other states be slave. The blessings of liberty are conferred 
on all who live by her credo; and basic to liberty is the 
unrigged market computer. 

• CHAPTER 14 • 


My fellow panelist, a college dean who espoused govern- 
ment security programs of all sorts, had never before en- 
countered anyone who insisted that government should be 
limited, without exception, to keeping the peace. Finally, 
in exasperation, he delivered this intended coup de grace: 
"Well, if my panelist friend thinks that government should 
be so severely limited, I would like to have him tell this 
audience how private enterprise could deliver the mail." 

He was voicing a common sentiment: Private enterprise 
deliver the mail? Preposterous! Also, this dean of Labor 
and Industry was revealing a shocking and common lack of 
understanding as to how the market works. It is this wide- 
spread failure to grasp the miracle of the market which ac- 
counts, in no small measure, for the mass turn toward social- 
ism. If there is no faith in getting jobs done by men acting 
freely, privately, cooperatively, competitively, willingly, 
voluntarily, peacefully, to that extent will people believe in 
political authority to guide human action. It's either peace 
or force; there is no in-between! 

Let your imagination take you back just one century, to 
the year 1864. Suppose, at that time, you had been asked 
to select the easiest of the following assignments: 



1. Deliver the mail; 

2. Deliver the human voice a thousand miles; 

3. Deliver a dozen individuals from San Francisco to 
Miami in one day; 

4. Deliver an event visually a mile from where it takes 
place, at the time of its occurrence. 

Which of the four would have seemed easiest to accom- 
plish in 1864? Number 1, for certain! Numbers 2, 3, and 4 
would then have app>eared utterly imp>ossible, too fantastic 
to be taken seriously. The easiest one of the four— delivery 
of the mail — has been left in the hands of government. 
Numbers 2, 3, and 4 have been dealt with so competently 
and expansively in the free market that we have uken them 
for granted; we never give them a second thought. So, let 
us ask, how well has government handled the mail? 

For all practical purposes, the government uses the same 
methods of gathering, sorting, and delivering the mail that 
it did 100 years ago. 

The mail is slower today than it was before World 
War II. 

A letter often takes 48 hours to travel 100 miles. 

The Post Office is floundering in a sea of mail that gets 
deeper every year. 

Rates on first-class mail have been hiked 150 per cent 
since 1932, yet the deficit for the mail operation is now 
running close to $1,000,000,000 a year, about $3,000,000 
for each working day, or ten times what it was in 1932. 

Almost all proposals for solving this generally acknowl- 
edged bureaucratic failure are predicated on government's 


remaining in the mail business, as though this were as prop- 
er a function of government as is keeping the peace. Pro- 
p>osed solutions range all the way from getting a more com- 
petent Postmaster General to appropriating millions of 
dollars for research, all aimed at the hopeless objective of 
making a government enterprise efficient. 

Th« Constitution Says So 

There are numerous reasons why most people assume that 
government ought to be responsible for mail delivery. One 
is this: At our nation's outset, the most respected of Ameri- 
can political instruments. The Constitution of the U.S.A., 
proclaimed, "The Congress shall have power ... to estab- 
lish post offices. ..." The Congress exercised this power. 
There arc now nearly 40,000 post offices. 

But Congress went further than the permissibility granted 
by the Constitution. Congress outlawed competition; it de- 
clared mail delivery a government monopoly. No one, today, 
may carry first<lass mail for pay except on a subcontract 
arrangement with Uncle Sam. The mail business is the gov- 
ernment's — period! 

When any activity has been monopolized by government 
for years, persons with entrepreneurial aptitudes rarely 
think of it as an opportunity for private enterprise. The 
enterpriser seldom spends any time trying to think how to 
do something that he will never have a chance to try. An 
activity monopolized by government soon becomes both 
"untouchable" and "unthinkable." Thus, everyone— almost 
— assumes the mail business to be a proper function of gov- 


Almost! Now and then, however, there are individuals 
who question the generally accepted premise. Their reason- 
ing goes something like this: More pounds of fresh milk are 
delivered every day than pounds of mail. Fresh milk is more 
perishable than a love letter or a catalogue or an appeal 
for funds or a picture magazine or an entertainment jour- 
nal. Fresh milk delivery is more efficient, more prompt, 
lower priced than mail delivery. Why shouldn't men in the 
market place — acting privately, competitively, voluntarily, 
cooperatively, peacefully — deliver mail? They deliver 
freight, which is heavier. 

Not only the "man in the street," but a high proportion 
of enterprisers themselves believe that government should 
deliver mail. Unwittingly, they have lost faith in them- 
selves as free men to deliver mail. Why? 

¥r— Ent*rpf4s« Do«t th« Job 

First, ask this question: How far could the human voice 
be delivered loo years ago? The answer is, the distance two 
champion hog callers could effectively communicate — 
about 44 yards. But, left free to try, enterprisers have dis- 
covered how to deliver the human voice around this earth, 
for instance, which is 1,000,000 times as far, and in one- 
seventh of a second. That's roughly the same time it takes 
the voice of one hog caller to reach the ear of the other. 
Quite an accomplishment in delivery, isn't it? 

When we have left enterprisers free to try, they have 
discovered how to deliver a Rose Bowl game, a Shakes- 


pearean play, or whatever into everyone's living room in 
motion and in color at the time it is going on. 

When we have left these enterprisers free to try, they 
have discovered how to deliver 115 individuals from Seattle 
to Baltimore in less than four hours. 

When free to try, they have discovered how to deliver 
gas from Texas to homes in New York at low cost. 

When free to try, they have discovered how to deliver 
every four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our East- 
ern Seaboard for less money than government charges to de- 
liver a one-ounce letter from Irvington-on-Hudson to ad- 
jacent Tarrylown. 

And these arc the people — the ones who have had a hand 
in these miracles — who have lost faith in themselves as free 
men to deliver letters. 

While the last comparison is somewhat loaded, this ex- 
ample of free market oil delivery, on a weight-distance- time 
basis, wins against the example of mail delivery by more 
than 10,000 to 1! 

Let's try another comparison. The fastest mail service is 
an airmail letter. With the best of luck a letter posted in 
Irvington-on-Hudson at 5 p.m. could be in the hands of an 
addressee in Lx>s Angeles 40 hours later, and for 8 cents. 
Now, consider the incomparably more complex problem 
of a personal conversation with the same Angelino. He can 
be reached and a three-minute talk-fest completed in three 
and one-fourth minutes, and for $2.25 (plus tax) . True, this 
is 30 times more costly but 750 times fasterl 

Interestingly enough, the A.T. & T., by far the largest of 
the human voice communicators, has, during the period 


when the Post Office was losing $10,000,000,000, showed a 
profit of $22,000,000,000. 

In the light of overwhelming evidence on every hand, why 
does anyone cling to the notion that a letter can be deliv- 
ered only by a governmental agency? Instead, we should 
marvel that people in government are able to deliver the 
mail at all; not because they are less talented than the 
A.T. & T. folks, but simply because of the manner in which 
they are organized to do the job. 

Suppose you were asked to head a business — one of the 
largest in the world — one in which you were wholly in- 
experienced and to which you had given no thought, as is 
the case with the mill run of Postmasters General. Next, 
assume that a substantial part of your key p>ersonnel had to 
be selected on the basis of political preferment. And, finally, 
imagine that the income of the business depended not on 
willing exchanges in a free market but on appropriations 
made to your business by two directorates, of 100 and 435 
members respectively (the Senate and House) , all having 
more in mind their own f>olitical fortunes than the business 
for which you have been given responsibility. With resp)on- 
sibility and authority so unrelated, and with the other 
obstacles mentioned, what kind of a performance do you 
think you could turn in? 

Imagine this: A century ago the Post Office — headed, 
manned, and organized as above — was given a monopoly 
of all transportation and all communications. What, today, 
would be the shape of trains, trucks, planes, telephones, 
wireless, radar had these activities been monopolized as has 
the mail? Is there any reason to believe that there would 



have been progress in these technologies? Wouldn't these, 
like the Post Ofl&ce, be about as they were 100 years ago? 

Th« Market Not Appreciated 

The fact that the Constitution empowered Congress to 
put government in the postal business does not make it 
right. The same Constitution condoned slavery. 

Nor is government postal service justified by the danger- 
ous and popular notion that government should do for the 
people that which they cannot or will not do for them- 
selves. If this were a sound rule, then anything the govern- 
ment ever attempted would become a proper government 
function simply because most people tend to give up — 
realizing the futility of trying to compete with the tax col- 

Nor can government postal service be justified on the 
Rural Free Delivery argument. If a person elects to live 
atop Pike's Peak, let him get his mail as he does his corn- 
flakes or milk or whatever. Why should the rest of us sub- 
sidize his desire to have his isolation, and his mail, too? 

That mail delivery should be left to the free, competitive 
market is so buttressed with overwhelming evidence that it 
is difficult to understand why we persist in our mistake. I 
have already given some minor reasons; the major reason is 
failure to understand the miracle of the market. 

Omit those inexperienced in business and ask only of out- 
standing enterprisers, "Should mail delivery be left to the 
market?" Except in rare instances, their answers will be an 
emphatic "Nol" Their thought processes go something like 


this: "H'ml Let me see. How would I go about delivering 
mail to nearly two hundred million jjeople? By George, I 
don't know. If I, a successful enterpriser, don't know, who 
does? Of course mail delivery should not be left to the 
market. It's a government job." 

No On« N««cis to Know 

The fact is that our enterprising friend could spend the 
rest of his life reflecting on how he would deliver mail to 
all the people in the U.S.A. and never would he think how 
to do it. What he doesn't understand is that neither he nor 
any other person can ever know — or needs to know — how 
to do the job. Do just two things and witness a miracle: 

1 . Let the Congress repeal the monopoly now granted to 
the government, thus permitting anyone to deliver mail 
for pay who wishes to do so, as unrestricted as grocery 
delivery; and 

2. Let the Congress appropriate no more money to the 
Treasury for Post Office Department use, and insist 
that the accounting be on a basis comparable to private 
enterprise accounting, to include renuls, taxes, and 
so on, thus requiring the Post Office Department to 
charge rates that will incur no deficits. 

Within a year or two or three government would be out 
of the mail business, completely out; private enterprise 
would take over the whole thing, lock, stock, and barrel. 
Furthermore, mail delivery would become as efficient as is 
the communication of sound or the delivery of groceries. 


taken for granted as is the supply of automobiles, without 
extra burden to uxpayers, and with profit to enterprisers in 
proportion to their capacity to cut costs and improve ser- 

Many will ask, how can this possibly happen when no 
person now knows how to deliver mail? Very well, how do 
we manufacture 1,600,000,000 wooden lead pencils annually 
without anyone knowing how to make a pencil? There, in 
the pencil story, is the answer: tiny, varied, multitudinous 
know-hows miraculously, spontaneously, automatically con- 
figurating— 50 long as they are free to do 50— arising from 
where and in whom no one can remotely guess. There are 
thousands upon thousands of testimonies to this free market 
phenomenon all about us, but the miracle is so unobtrusive 
thai, like the air we breathe, we seldom take any note of 
it. This wonderful mystery, which so few persons grasp, is 
rooted in nothing more complicated than a faith in free 
men. Indeed, the reason that a bureaucracy cannot efficient- 
ly deliver mail is that the individual know-hows are not 
free to flow; the governmental system presupposes some- 
thing that does not exist: a f>erson who knows how to de- 
liver mail. 

Some may claim that I am out to abolish the govern- 
mental postal service. But I do not consider that a first or- 
der of business. I use the postal service to illustrate that any 
and all men should be permitted to do anything they please, 
so long as it is peaceful — even deliver mail for pay; that 
government has no competency beyond keeping the peace. 
The (x>stal service merely turns out to be the easiest way to 
make the |X)int — everything about it is so obvious. 

• CHAPTER 15 • 


Many thoughtful persons, when supplied with the evidence, 
will agree that a creative activity should be left to free men, 
with government relegated to keeping the peace; that is, 
they will agree when the issue is as clear cut as in the case of 
the postal service. And many also will concede that this 
same division of functions should apply to countless creative 
activities: leave productive and creative affairs to free men; 
leave the inhibiting and penalizing of destructive actions to 

Of all activities, none is more obviously in the creative 
category than is education. Based on the above division-of- 
functions concept, education would be left exclusively to the 
free market. Yet, there is a firmly rooted {x>pular conviction 
or belief in government education. Here, in education, we 
have the contradiction of means and ends in its most pro- 
nounced and perhaps its most dangerous form; certainly, 
in the form most difficult to clarify. 

However, the person who argues that anyone should 
be able to do anything he pleases so long as it is peaceful 
and that the role of government is only to keep the peace, 
had better make his case in this difficult area, or retire from 
the field. And I know of no better place to begin than with 



the argument which rages around the subject of academic 
freedom. Whenever an issue is split down the middle and 
intelligent men of good will are arrayed on either side of 
the controversy, one conclusion can be reasonably drawn: 
some basic principle in the argument has been neglected. 

Academic freedom has been debated as if it were primar- 
ily an ideological or a philosophical problem, whereas, in 
my view, it is an organizational problem. Whether a teach- 
er be a communist, a socialist, a Fabian, a New Dealer, or 
their direct opposite, is a matter of secondary concern, un- 
related to the real issue of academic freedom. If we were 
to shift the subject from academic freedom to freedom in 
the market place and then argue that it mattered whether 
or not one were a carpenter, a plumber, a farmer, or what- 
ever, we would be on comparably untenable ground. 

Th« Par*nt-Child Relationship 

The confusions about academic freedom may be cleared 
if we first examine teaching in its simplest form and move 
from there to more complex forms. 

The simplest teaching relationship would exist between 
parent and child. The parent is responsible for the child, 
and consequently has authority over the child. The basic 
principle in all successful organization is that responsibility 
and authority be commensurate. Any deviation leads to 
trouble, whether in the simplest relationship between parent 
and child or in such complex relationships as are found in 
large corporate organizations. The successful parent-child 
relationship will find the parent relinquishing authority 


as the child grows in stature and assumes the responsibilities 
for his own life. When responsibilities are fully assumed, 
no parental authority whatsoever should remain. The solu- 
tion of the academic freedom problem rests squarely on 
the responsibility-authority principle. 

The mother teaching her child, assuming no interfer- 
ence, has perfect academic freedom. She will teach the child 
precisely what she wants it to leam. Whether the mother 
is a communist, an anarchist, or of the libertarian [per- 
suasion has no bearing on the question of academic 

Now let us take the first step toward complexity: the 
mother employing an aide, shall we say, a tutor. The re- 
sponsibility for the education of the child still rests with 
the mother. And if trouble is not to ensue, the authority also 
must remain with her. The tutor may or may not share the 
mother's views about life, education, and social affairs. But 
regardless of their agreements or differences, the mother 
should still be in the driver's seat. If she can delegate a por- 
tion of her responsibility-authority powers to the tutor, she 
also should be free to revoke such f>owers. The j>ower to 
hire, logically, carries with it the power to fire. If one could 
only delegate and not revoke, could only hire and not fire, 
he would be in the absurd situation of having to live all of 
his lifetime with an ever-growing accumulation of mis- 
takes. If this were the case, who would dare risk employ- 
ing anyone? 

In this mother-tutor-child arrangement, let us assume that 
the mother is a devotee of socialism and that the tutor turns 
out, much to the mother's surprise and disgust, to be of the 


freedom faith — one who believes in no coercion at all to 
direct the creative activities of citizens within a society. 
What then? Is the socialist mother obligated to retain the 
libertarian tutor on the grounds of academic freedom? 
Whose academic freedom? The mother's or the tutor's? Is 
the mother, who once had academic freedom in relation to 
her child, now to be deprived of it because she hired the 
tutor? Is the tutor's freedom to teach what he pleases to 
supersede the mother's freedom to have her child taught 
what she wishes? This anomalous arrangement would have 
the mother responsible for the education of the child and 
for paying the tutor, and leave the tutor with authority as 
to what the child should be taught — the responsibility- 
authority principle totally violated. Nothing but friction 
would result, certainly no educational progress. 

T«nur« vt. Academic Freedom 
Liberurian views generally are founded on the belief 
that each person has an inalienable right to his own life; 
that he has the responsibility to protect and to sustain his 
life; and with this goes the corresponding authority to 
make free choices — no exception 1 Our tutor, holding such 
libertarian views, must concede that the socialist mother's 
academic freedom supersedes his own as it relates to what 
should be taught the child. That is her business and not 
his. For him to argue that he can teach her child what he 
pleases, that she does not have the authority and the right 
to discharge him lest his academic freedom be violated, is 


to place the argument on the wrong ground. Such a claim 
would be for tenure, not for academic freedom! 

The tutor's academic freedom is in no way violated if 
the socialist mother chooses to discharge him. He is free to 
teach his libertarian views to his own children or to the 
children of parents who may subscribe to the service he is 
prepared to render. Academic freedom would be violated 
if one were coerced into teaching what he believed to be 
wrong — if the libertarian tutor were compelled to teach 
socialism, or if the socialist mother were compelled to have 
her child taught libertarian ideas. 

Th« Privat* School 

Numbers can be added to the parent-tutor relationship 
without altering the responsibility-authority lines. A good 
example is a school I knew, the Ferris Institute of 1917, long 
before it became a government school. Mr. Ferris owned the 
school. There was no Board of Trustees. It was a venture as 
private as his own home. He employed teachers in accord 
with his judgment of their competence. He admitted stu- 
dents in accord with his judgment of their worthiness. If 
he thought he had erred in the selection of a teacher, the 
teacher was discharged. And many students were sent home 
because they would not meet the standard of hard work 
he required. 

Mr. Ferris had the sole responsibility for the success o£ 
Ferris Institute; and, correctly, he assumed the authority for 
its conduct. Academic freedom was in no way offended. 
Teachers who shared his educational principles were free to 


submit their credentials and, if employed, to put these 
principles into practice. Parents who liked the hard-work 
fUndards of Ferris Institute were free to seek admission for 
their children. 

Most private educational organizations are more complex 
than was the Ferris Institute of that time. Some are cor- 
porations organized for profit, in which case the ultimate 
responsibility and authority rest with the stockholders in 
proportion to their ownership. As a rule, the responsibility 
and authority arc delegated to a Board of Trustees; and the 
Board, in turn, delegates the responsibility and authority 
to a chief executive officer, usually a president. The presi- 
dent organizes the institution and delegates the responsi- 
bility and authority vested in him to numerous subadminis- 
trators and teachers. The stockholders, having the final re- 
sponsibility for the institution, quite properly have the au- 
thority to change Board membership if they find themselves 
in disagreement with Board policy. The Trustees, in turn, 
having been given the responsibility by the stockholders, 
have the authority to discharge the chief executive officer if 
they believe he is not properly executing its policy. The 
chief executive officer, vested with responsibility by the 
Board, has the authority to change his aides if he believes 
they arc not carrying out his ideas. Discretion in exercising 
authority, regardless of where vested, is assumed. 

Complexity in no way alters the responsibility-authority 
principle, but only increases the difficulty of tracing the 
responsibility and authority lines. 

All organization — educational or otherwise— is an at- 
tempt at cooperation. Cooperation is not possible unless 


responsibility and authority go hand-in-hand. Example: 
You want a new home, but rather than build your own 
you select a contractor to whom you delegate the responsi- 
bility to build it in conformity with Sf>ecified plans. Now, 
suppose that you delegate no authority to the contractor 
and that other members of your family, and any of the 
carpenters, can alter the plans at will. The house, if one 
ever materializes, will be a mess. 

Suppose, on the other hand, that you have given the 
contractor an authority commensurate with his resp>onsi- 
bility, and he then tells the carpenters that the construc- 
tion is to be precisely according to your plans. But the 
carpenters protest: "This is doing violence to our freedom. 
You are not letting us practice our views on carp)entry." 
The absurdity of this is apparent. Yet, it is the same as 
the teacher's protest, "You are doing violence to my aca- 
demic freedom," when he is asked to resj^ect the authority 
of the one who has the resf)onsibiliiy for the teaching or- 
ganization. Actually, he is insisting that he be permitted 
to do as he pleases in matters for which someone else has 
the responsibility. He claims freedom to do as he pleases 
while he denies a like freedom to the responsible person 
who pays him. 

Often, it is not academic freedom that is at issue; it is 
simply a claim for tenure. American parents, not wanting 
communism and socialism taught to their children, seek 
the discharge of teachers of such faiths. But the teachers 
cry "academic freedom" and the parents. Board members, 
and school officials are loath to violate this sacrosanct part 
of their own philosophy. So, the academic freedom argu- 


ment is a good tenure argument. It is precisely the same 
as the "right to a job" argument advanced so persuasively 
by professionals of the labor movement. It "works," and 
therefore is used. 

This argument succeeds because the responsibility-au- 
thority principle has been neglected. The neglect comes, 
in the case of public or, more accurately, government edu- 
cation, because it is most difficult to know who is re- 
sponsible or what performance is expected. Where does 
responsibility ultimately rest? With the taxpayers in pro- 
portion to their assessments for schools? Generally, this 
would be denied. With the parents who have children 
in government schools? These, seemingly, have no more re- 
sponsibility than those with children in private schools, 
or than those who have no children at all. 

With the voters? Probably this is as close as one can 
come to identifying ultimate responsibility in the case of 
government education. If the responsibility rests here, then 
that is where the final authority rests. It rests here in 
theory and to some extent in practice. Voters — whether or 
not they are interested in education and whether or not 
they have children — elect Boards of Education. These, in 
turn, select superintendents, who then employ deputies 
and teachers. Without too much difficulty, one can trace 
the chain of responsibility in government education from 
the voters who ultimately hold it and who delegate it by 
plebiscite to Boards of Education, to superintendents, to 
teachers. But the teachers, in theory, have no authority to 
teach what they please. They are, in theory, subject to the 
authority of the superintendents, the superintendents sub- 


ject to the Boards, and the Board members to the voters. 
Simple enough thus farl^ 

The question is: What do the voters want taught? What 
viewpoint has this heterogeneous mass the authority to 
impose? Every conceivable point of view and educational 
technique known to man may be found among these mil- 
lions of voters. They range from one ideological extreme 
to the other. Among them are communists, socialists of 
every gradation, anarchists, libertarian idealists, Jews, Cath- 
olics, Protestants, and what have you! 

What do these people want? They want all things. And 
the best one can expect from such a plebiscite is the 
common denominator opinion of the millions, an opinion 
subject to all sorts of emotional influences, expressed in a 
voice that is rarely clear. 

Lines of RMpontibility Tangled 

My purpose in this chapter is not so much to show the 
flaws in government education as to demonstrate how con- 
fusion about academic freedom arises when the source of 
responsibility is unable to speak clearly or exercise the au- 
thority it possesses "on paper," that is, in theory. 

There need be no such confusion in the case of free 
market education. Pronounced variation would result were 
educational endeavors preponderantly private. Each enter- 
prise would present its own brand of education, and custom- 
ers would take their choice. 

1 It is not quite as simple as this suggests. Federal and state and 
city Departments of Education are assuming increasing powers and 
tend further to confuse the responsibility-authority lines. 


Government endeavor, on the other hand, results in 
vague generalizations. All the wants and aspirations, the 
interests and conflicts, are combined into an educational 
potpourri, the ingredients of the compromise being pro- 
portional to the popularity of various ideas at the mo- 

Adding to the confusion is the fact that all parties in 
the chain of government responsibility-authority — Boards 
of Education, superintendents, deputies, and teachers— are 
themselves voters making decisions not only as a part of 
the plebiscite but acting on their own authority, not 
necessarily the authority issuing from the plebiscite. 

The government educational effort is a political ap- 
paratus and behaves accordingly. The indifference of vot- 
ers invites special interests to assume command.^ For in- 
stance, if teachers adequately organize, they can easily con- 
trol the government school system and supplant the voters 
as the responsibility-authority fountainhead. The deputies, 
the superintendents, the Boards of Education, and the 
voters become the teachers' aides, so to speak, helping pri- 
marily as taxpayers. 

When affairs take such a turn — a common occurrence — 
it is easy to see how teachers resent any voter interference 
with the freedom to teach whatever they please. The teach- 
ers have appropriated the responsibility for the govern- 
ment schools. And with the responsibility goes the author- 
ity to manage the schools, even the authority to make the 
voters — displaced bosses — pay the bills. In this topsy-turvy 

•Voter indifference today in America is no sociological accident. It 
is an inevitable consequence of overextended government. 


arrangement, it is natural that teachers should feel free 
to teach what they please. Interference, from whatever 
source, is indeed a violation of their politically purchased 
"academic freedom." 

As long as education is politically organized, the squabble 
over academic freedom will continue. The voters, by reason 
of their natural indifference and diverse opinions, are un- 
likely to regain the responsibility and authority which the 
theory of government education presumes to be theirs. If 
they would end the squabble, they will have to get educa- 
tion out of the political arena. 

This confusion about academic freedom, which originates 
in government education, carries over into private schools 
in many instances. 

Academic freedom is no more sacred than is freedom of 
speech, freedom of the press, religious freedom, freedom 
to produce what one pleases, and freedom to trade with 
whomever one pleases. There is no freedom f>eculiar to the 
classroom, diplomas, degrees, or mortarboards. Let anyone 
teach what he pleases, but let him do it on his own responsi- 
bility. Let him not cry "academic freedom" as he robs 
someone else of freedom. 

When government is in the educational driver's seat, 
academic freedom will always be argued as if it were a 
political and ideological problem, which really it is not. 
When the market is free for the production and exchange 
of all goods and ail services the issue of freedom — academic, 
economic, or whatever — is never in question. 

• CHAPTER 16 • 


This chapter is intended as a critique of government edu- 

The inevitable consequence of governmental interven- 
tion in the market — in the areas of food, mink coats, or 
whatever — is imbalance. That is, when government deviates 
from its proper role of keeping the peace and invoking a 
(ommon justice, shortages and surpluses result. As ex- 
{)lained in Chapter 13, we are now experiencing a wheat 
glut by reason of prices rigged by government, known as 
"supf)ort prices." France has a housing shortage because 
of prices rigged by the French government, known as 
"ceiling prices."* Surpluses and shortages are phenomena 
of the rigged market, never of the free market. The free 
market always moves toward equilibrium where supply 
and demand equate; like water, when free to flow, it moves 
toward a common level. Balance is the free market's built- 
in tendency. 

» See the pamphlet. No Vacancies, for an account of rent control in 
France. Single copy on request. Write the Foundation for Economic 
Education, Inc., Irvington-on-Hudson, New York. 


There is governmental intervention in the educational 
market. We should, therefore, be able to detect surpluses 
and shortages, that is, imbalance in types of knowledge. 
There can never be a surplus of knowledge, but there can 
be — and is — a superfluity of technical know-how relative 
to general wisdom or understanding. My thesis is that gov- 
ernment's intervention in education is, to a marked ex- 
tent, the cause of a dangerous and grotesque imbalance 
between these two distinct tyjjes of knowledge. In any 
event, this is the issue here explored. 

While few will share my reasons for this imbalance, the 
fact of imbalance is well known; some writers have stated 
it impressively: 

We have many men of science; too few men of God. 

We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the 

Sermon on the Mount. 
The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power 

without conscience. 
Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. 
We know more about war than we know about peace, more 

about killing than we know about living.' 

The distortions of civilization now seem to foreshadow the 
possibility of extinction of our kind.' 

Man's problems have arisen because his material progress 
has outstripped his spiritual advancement.* 

Man must be made to understand that the mechanical trans- 
formations he has introduced . . . will mean either progress 

2 General of the Army, Omar Bradley. Address, Armistice Day, 1949. 

3 Professor Harlow Shapley. The View from a Distant Star (New 
York: Basic Books, Inc., 1963). p. 9s. 

* Matlie Storms Miller, Infinite Wisdom, p. 154. 


or ruin according to whether or not they are accompanied 
by . . . improvement in his moral attitude.^ 

. . . civilization at the moment being in danger of destruction 
in consequence of an unprecedented development in man's 
mechanical skill and ability to exploit the forces of nature, 
with which his ethical sentiments and social wisdom have en- 
tirely failed to keep pace.* 

RMtont for the Imbalance 
All of the above are astute and, I believe, important ob- 
servations.' This imbalance in types of knowledge flowing 
from our vaunted educational system is at once startling 
and ominous. For never before in history have a people 
spent as much time in classrooms as do the present gen- 
eration of Americans. Never as much money spent for ed- 
ucation! Never a greater hue and cry for the expenditure 
of additional billions to finance more of the same! But, 
significantly, never so much grumbling about the educa- 
tional results. Quite obviously, there is a common aware- 
ness that something is out of kilter, even though there is 

f very little certainty as to what's at the root of it. 

Is it not clear that our educational emphasis is more on 

; accumulating know-how than on gaining wisdom or un- 

5 Lecomte du Noiiy, Human Destiny (New York: Longmans, Green 
& Co.. 1947). p. 139. 

•C. E. M. Joad, Return to Philosophy (London: Faber and Faber), 
p. 177. 

TI concede that this alleged imbalance between know-how and 
know-why rests solely on value judgments and, thus, this analysis can 
have meaning only to those who, in a general way, share my values. 
What follows cannot rise al)ove nonsense to those who attach im- 
portance only to more and more technological know-how— scientism— 
and little, if any, importance to understanding and wisdom. 


derstanding? Our know-how in the fields of mathematics, 
physics, chemistry, and other sciences has made p>ossible 
the hydrogen bomb, as well as the putting of monkeys and 
men into orbit, and sending TV sets to the moon. Observe 
the nature of quiz shows and the kudos we heap on mas- 
ters of current events and the obeisance we pay to those 
who can recite the encyclopedia. We know how to make 
clothes out of sand, airplane wings from sea water, uten- 
sils from oil. If we don't make silk purses out of sows' i 
ears, it is only because — well, who wants a silk purse? We 1 
have know-how galore, giving us enough p>ower to destroy 
every living thing. Know-how is jx)wer, and we tend to J 
worship power. ' 

Lack of Understanding 
But where is the understanding to balance the know- 
how? A breakthrough in know-how appears to have edged 
wisdom off the driver's seat. For, are we not, as a nation, 
on the same reckless course that has brought about the 
fall of one civilization after another? Self-responsibility — 
amidst an abundance of know-how and a paucity of wis- 
dom, understanding, conscience, ethics, insight — has given 
way to government res)>onsibility for our security, welfare, 
and prosperity, reminiscent of the Roman Empire's later 
days. Unwisely, we increase the curbs on individual initia- 
tive. The theme that we can spend ourselves rich has, among 
"nuclear giants," switched from heresy to orthodoxy; infla- 
tion is dreaded and cursed by the very people who, in an 
utter lack of understanding, promote it. Feathering the 
nests of some at the expense of others has, in our know- 


how society, become the chief political preoccupation. 
Among the "well educated," the number who think of 
righu to life, livelihood, liberty as deriving from the state, 
not the Creator, is growing, and integrity gives way to pop- 
ular acclaim. The directive of one's behavior is less and 
less what conscience dictates as right and more and more 
what the gods of fame and fortune decree. A little knowl- 
edge may be dangerous, as the saying goes, but a rapidly 
expanding know-how, unless balanced by a commensurately 
expanding wisdom, assuredly spells disaster. 

Perhaps we can better assess a present position by taking 
stock of our beginnings. To illustrate: The Bible, filled 
with much understanding and wisdom — in a very real 
sense an educational launching pad for Western civiliza- 
tion — was compiled some eighteen to twenty-eight centuries 
ago.' The writers had little of the know-how we possess. 
Perhaps they never dreamed of, let alone knew, the multi- 
plication table. Of higher mathematics, they were unaware. 
Zero wasn't invented until centuries after their time. There 
wasn't a B.A. or Ph.D. among them; indeed, could any Bib- 
lical writer have passed one of our eighth grade examina- 
tions? Know-how — as we use the term — was not their pri- 
mary objective, but understanding principles was. They 
were men of insight and integrity. 

The first stage of wisdom requires that we understand 
I he virtues and how to live them. Integrity, that is, fidelity 

•To appreciate ihe extent of the U.S.A.'s religious heritage and its 
impact on our Founding Fathers, see The Christian History of the 
Constitution of the United States, compiled by Verna M. Hall. Order 
from the Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., Irvington-on-Hud- 
8on. New York. 436 pp. $7.50. 


to one's highest conscience, is foremost and basic. Next is 
humility — in the sense of freeing oneself from be-like-me- 
ness. These prime virtues, if understood and practiced, im- 
part a rare wisdom: a sensitive and acute realization that 
a human being is a man and not a demigod. Without this 
wisdom, man tends to behave as demigod. And therein, I 
believe, lies the key to educational imbalance. 

No one has ever seen a demigod, except perhaps in the 
mirror. Thus, a demigod is an error of the psyche, nothing 
more. But this error must not be discounted; it is wide- 
spread and unbelievably {X)werful. To assess its pervasive- 
ness, merely note the millions of individuals who actually 
believe that the rest of us would fare better were we a re- 
flection of themselves. Each of these millions would have 
us live in the kind of housing he has in mind, work the 
hours he prescribes, receive the wages he thinks appro- 
priate, exchange with whom he decrees and on terms he 
proposes, but, more particularly, he wants us to be edu- 
cated as he thinks proper! Bear in mind, however, that 
not a single one of these millions is a demigod in the judg- 
ment of any other j>erson than himself. Perhaps he may 
never think of himself in such egotistical terms; he mere- 
ly performs as if he were a demigod: He would mold us 
in his own image!* I repeal, this is an error of the psyche, 
nothing more. 

This l)chavior is. of course, egotism in its most destructive form. 
Instead of seeking self-fulfillment in the development of the individ- 
ual's moral nature, sense of justice, creativity, such liehavior ex- 
presses itself in the ini|>osition of the individual's will on others. 
Only in self-realization can there l)e growth among the human species: 
inflicting self on others — the demigod liehavior — can result only in 


Just the Two of Us 

My hypothesis: Our educational system, to a marked 
extent, steins from this error of the psyche. If this be de- 
monstrable, then we can account for some of the faults we 
arc finding with the system, the hassles over integration 
and segregation, prayers in schools, and so on. We will then 
perceive why we are putting such an emphasis on the ac- 
quisition of know-how to the neglect of understanding or 
wisdom; we will become aware of the corrective steps that 
must be uken if know-how is to be balanced with wis- 
dom; and we will have the background for not thrusting 
ourselves further down a dead-end road. 

Let us begin an examination of this hypothesis by re- 
ducing the problem to manageable proportions: a consid- 
eration of only two individuals, you and me. While it is 
easily demonstrable that I know very litde about me and 
you about yourself, I know more about myself than any- 
one else does, and I acknowledge that you know yourself 
better than I know you. 

The most important admission to be made at the outset 
is that you and 1 are not alike. Our inheritances differ, as 
do our environmenu. My aptitudes, faculties, potentiali- 
ties, likes and dislikes, yearnings, inhibitions, ambitions, 
capabilities and inabilities to learn about this or that are 
not at all like yours. As to our common ground, each of 
us has a moral obligation not to impair the life, liveli- 
hood, liberty of others. Beyond this, we must resort to the 
broadest and more or less irrelevant generalities: we are 
Americans, we belong to the human species, and so on. 
We aren't as "two peas in a pod"; we are at variance in 


every particularity.^" We not only differ from each other 
but we don't remain constant ourselves; each of us is in 
perpetual flux, changing in every respect daily, aging in 
some ways, growing in others. 

In short, we must keep in mind that you and I are 
unique specimens of humanity; we are peculiarly distinc- 
tive; that is, each of us is an original, the first and only 
creation of its likeness in cosmic exp>erience; that nothing 
identical to either you or me is p)ossible; that neither of 
us has ever been, is now, or ever will be, duplicated. You, 
as much as I, are a physical, mental, moral, {perceptive, po- 
litical, and spiritual entity — a singular entity — and any 
carbon copy is out of the question. 

Before moving on to the next phase of this analysis, I 
must ask that you make an extravagant assumption in this 
you-and-me situation, namely, that I am as knowledgeable 
and as wise as the most fx)werful political leader in the 
nation." Otherwise, I run the risk of my hypothesis being 
disregarded by reason of my own acknowledged short- 

You Draw on Mo 

Let us now examine my possible educational relation- 
ships to you. At issue are two opposed roles that I might 
assume. The first and, to me, the propter role is to let you 

10 See Biochemical Individuality by Roger Williams (New York: John 
Wiley Sc Sons. Inc., 1956). pp. 2-3. 

11 I use "most powerful political leader" liecausc, as will be demon- 
strated, our educational system is, in most essential respects, geared 
to a political organism. 


draw on such know-how and understanding as I may pos- 
sess and as you may determine. Education is a seeking, prob- 
ing, taking-from process, and the initiative must rest with 
the seeker. As great as is my stake in your better education, 
I must concede that your progress depends on your desire 
to learn, that this inquisitiveness into the nature of things 
is a truly spiritual experience — the spirit of inquiry — that 
this is wholly volitional and that you are the sole possessor 
of your volitional stimuli. These, as related to you or your 
children, are exclusively yours; they do not, they cannot, 
rest with me or any other person. Mine is, at best, only 
an exemplar's role: it is to improve myself to the utmost 
and thus to j>ersuade solely by precept and example. If 
it turns out that I have something in store which in your 
view — not mine — may lift you or your children up another 
notch, then my self-interest is served by obliging you. Ar- 
ranged in this pattern, the student selects his teachers.^^ 

If you — regardless of who you are — will confine your 
evaluations to the you-and-me situation, that is, if you will 
exclude any thought of anyone but the two of us, you will 
readily agree that my role, as above portrayed, is a proper 
one; it isn't possible for any rational person to conclude 
otherwise! In short, you would not have it any other way. 
And, further, I am quite certain that when you are at lib- 
erty to glean from me or any others as you may choose, 
you will obtain for yourself as balanced an educational 
diet as is possible for you. As with food for the flesh, so 

" If the student is a child, the selection is made by the parent; for 
the child, until reaching the point of self-responsibility, is but an 
extension of the parent's responsibility. I expanded on this idea in 
Chapter 15. 


with sustenance for the intellect and the spirit: you will 
be led naturally to select those bits of know-how and wis- 
dom from first this and then that jjerson — a balancing of 
these two typ>es of knowledge which will gratify those needs 
peculiar only to you among all mankind. You will gravi- 
tate in due course toward that balance of know-how and 
wisdom needed for the fulfillment distinctive to your own 
person.13 In other words, you will learn more of what you 
want to learn if you are free to choose what you want to 
learn than if you are not free to choose what you want to 
learn. This is self-evident; it needs no proof. 

I Forc« You to L«am 

My second possible role is that of demigod — the one 
currently in vogue and the role here in question. Not that 
I am a demigod — no one is — but let us assume that I pose 
and behave as one: I shall compel your classroom attend- 
ance; write your curriculum in accord with my notions of 
your needs and force it up>on you; and, lastly, I shall co- 
ercively extort the financial wherewithal from all and 
sundry to defray the costs of imposing my own peculiar 
brand of knowledge upon you. In short, I shall attempt, as 
would a demigod, to cast you in my image! Your educa- 
tion for my sake! 

13 That wisdom of the ancients — the Biblical writers — which re- 
mains as the core of our idealism to this day was. so it appears, come 
upon in this free-seeking, self responsible manner. There was nothing 
that qualified as an e<Uicational "system." The political establishment 
in those centuries was anything but an "aid" to education. The wis- 
dom seems to have come from avid seekers after truth, working on their 
own initiative, more self- than other-directed. 


Bearing in mind our countless differences, what would 
you think of my program for making you or your children 
a carbon copy of me? Even conceding that I am as well 
balanced in know-how and wisdom as our country's most 
powerful political leader? 

In any event, is it not evident that the approach of the 
demigod — an error of the psyche — is antagonistic to the 
advancement of wisdom even though some chunks of know- 
how might be rammed into your reluctant head? Your and 
my creative peculiarities are so diverse that they cannot 
mesh; mine cannot be forcibly impressed upon yours with- 
out misshaping both yours and mine. It is somewhat analo- 
gous to taking a male die and a female die, each made of 
pliable, delicate material — but not matching — and pressing 
them together by an external pressure. The uniqueness of 
each would be destroyed. 

Wisdom has its genesis in creative phenomena. Coer- 
cion, clearly, is not a creative force; it is, by definition, re- 
pressive and destructive. Physical force can no more be 
used to stimulate the spirit of inquiry or advance wisdom 
or expand consciousness or increase perception than it can 
be employed to improve prayer — and for precisely the 
same reason. Acquiring understanding or wisdom springs 
from the volitional faculty as does wishing or exercising 
judgment or contemplating or praying. 

Let me repeat, there is not a single demigod on the face 
of the earth but, unfortunately, millions of human beings 
behave as if they were God; the you-should-believe-and-be- 
have-as-I-do variety is all about us; indeed, there may be 
but few persons who have completely shed themselves of 


this holier-than-thou trait. However, unless these persons 
go beyond the believing, behaving, talking, writing stage, 
their image-molding affliction does no more damage than 
an offensive TV ad: we can tune them out! Their miscon- 
ception wreaks no more havoc than does other error as long 
as their passive image-molding is not activated by coercion. 

The Larger Situation 

The you-and-me situation, as above p)ortrayed, will evoke 
but little disagreement. But get set for a shock! For unless 
you are one of a very few — a fraction of one jjer cent — 
who has thought this problem through to a conclusion, 
what follows will tend to offend. While I shall do no 
more than to multiply myself in the role of image-molding- 
by-force several million times, the mere multiplication — 
nothing more — will give us a situation that coincides with 
long established and generally approved American cus- 
tom. To question "the establishment," in any instance, is 
to affront the mores, a risky business. However, we should 
never fear taking a hard look at any rut we may be in. 

So here it is: If it is evident that the forcible casting 
of you or your children in my image is wrong, let me sug- 
gest that government schooling, practiced here for well 
over a century, is precisely the same thing, except on the 
grand scale. Instead of your being cast in the mold of one 
who has the know-how and wisdom of our most powerful 
political leader, tens of millions are and have been cast in 
molds shaped from nondescript plebisicites, each mold being 
patterned after nothing better than the compromises pro- 


duced by political committees; all molds shaped by collec- 
tives, no member of which has any more sense of resp>onsi- 
bility toward any particular individual than does the col- 
lective itself. Self-responsibility is not the trait of a com- 
mittee or collective. 

Lest you get the idea that I have made some sort of a 
shift from the you-and-me arrangement to government 
schooling, let me hasten to add that the two are identical 
with respect to the compulsions involved: 

a. compulsory attendance; 

b. government prescribed curricula; and 

c. forcible collection of the wherewithal to defray costs. 

I readily concede that a great deal of Brst-rate educa- 
tion goes on in our government school systems; but I must 
insist that the first-rate production is in spite of, not be- 
cause of, the coercive or governmental aspecu. Untold mil- 
lions of teachers and students, in many of their day-to-day 
relationships, are on a voluntary, not a coercive basis; to 
a large extent the students are selecting their teachers. 
But wherever coercion insinuates itself into schooling — 
that is, the upbringing process — be it government or pri- 
vate, an imbalance of know-how and wisdom will become 
evident. Wisdom will decrease, not increase, when the re- 
liance is on duplication by force; wisdom cannot be grafted 
onto a carbon copy. 

While it is easy enough to see how wisdom suffers under 
schooling systems that feature coercion, it is not as -easy to 
undersund why know-how thrives so well. Perhaps part 
of the explanation has to do with that which can be seen 


and that which cannot be seen. The multiplication table, 
for example, can be and is "learned by heart" by those 
who are compelled to attend classes. Insight, however, the 
mother of wisdom, is of a different order and cannot be 
so induced. But — here's the rub — neither can invention 
(from which stems our enormous know-how) be so in- 

Subsidized Inventors 

How, then, can coercion stimulate the know-how typ>e 
of inventiveness? No one can be coerced to invent, for in- 
ventiveness belongs to the creative order. Nor is compul- 
sory invention attempted. The mystery is not too difficult 
to unravel: billions of dollars are coercively collected from 
all of us — limiting our individual pursuits — and used to 
pay for government's know-how pursuits such as science, 
war hardware, moon machinery, and so on. No govern- 
ment regime is capable of inducing wisdom and would 
not know what to do with it in any event. An expansion 
of know-how and the f>ower it gives is what's politically 
attractive. Further, inventors are as creative if paid by 
coercively collected funds as if paid by voluntarily con- 
tributed funds: He who pays the fiddler calls the tune. Gov- 
ernment calls for know-how and gets it. Compulsion — gov- 
ernment intervention in the educational market — accounts, 
in no small measure, for the imbalance of know-how and 

Some, at this point, will counter with the argument that 
we have many private institutions and that the students 
from these are no more distinguished for wisdom than 


those graduated from government institutions. The point 
is conceded. But so-called private institutions in a statist 
society are not, in fact, strictly free-market in character. 
Not only must they liken themselves markedly to "big 
brother" and devote much time teaching about the eco- 
nomics and philosophy of statist institutions, but they are 
licensed and regulated and increasingly financed by their 
statist "comjjetition." So-called private institutions differ 
from government institutions in that they are not financed 
exclusively by tax funds, and the government influence on 
them is exerted by privately as distinguished from gov- 
ernmentaliy appointed citizens. In most important respects 
the "private" and government institutions are strikingly 
alike today — a drab conformity. In a society where educa- 
tion is preponderantly statist and where so much of the 
nation's resources are converted to know-how pursuits, the 
situation could not be otherwise. 

The Wrong Turn 

Finally, it would seem appropriate to inquire how we 
in the U.S.A. got off on the wrong foot; how did we, in the 
first place, ever acquire an educational system that turns 
out graduates who acknowledge its many faults and who 
instead of looking for something out of kilter merely in- 
sist on remedy by expansion? 

History reveals the original "reasoning" to have been 
somewhat as follows: America is to be a haven for free 
men. To accomplish this, we must have a people's, not a 
tyrant's government. However, such a democratic plan will 


never work unless the people are educated. But free citi- 
zens, left to their own resources, will not accomplish their 
intellectual upbringing. Therefore, "we" must educate 
"them": compulsory attendance in school, government 
dictated curricula, forcible collection to defray the costs. 
In short, education for the sake of others. 

Of course, the early proponents of government educa- 
tion never put the case in these concise terms. Had they 
done so, they would have discovered, at the outset, how 
illogical they were. Imagine: We will insure freedom to 
"the people" by denying freedom to them in education, 
for if their education is entrusted to freedom they will re- 
main uneducated and, thus, will not be able to enjoy the 
blessings of freedom! Illogical? How can we ever exjject a 
people brought up on coercion to be free of demigod men- 
talities? Does a coercive educational system have the in- 
tellectual soil and climate where freedom and wisdom may 
flourish? The answers lie all about us. 

Some of our forefathers did behave — indeed, even as 
you and I — like demigods, but "for the good of all," mind 
you I And in the name of doing good— occasionally erring 
as do we all — they hooked up coercion to the spirit of in- 
quiry and got for themselves and their posterity a grot- 
esque imbalance of know-how and wisdom. Assuredly, any 
light that coercion produces is not in the form of wisdom. 

Once on this coercive trek toward "nuclear giants and 
ethical infants" — toward know-how in everything and un- 
derstanding in nothing — how do we back out of it? The 
steps are simple enough to designate, if not to take; but 
reaching our goal may take a bit of time. How long? Noth- 


ing less than the hours or days or years you and I and others 
need to recover from our demigod pose — nothing less than 
the time it takes to reject compulsion and to accept liberty 
in education. How, any rational person must ask, can a peo- 
ple be free or wise unless they are brought up in, steeped 
in, believe in, and understand that growth in wisdom pre- 
supposes freedom of the individual to pursue what is 
wise? As the present imbalance between know-how and 
wisdom has its genesis not with government but with in- 
I dividuals who make government what it is, so a balancing 
of these two types of knowledge rests with individuals — 
with those who can see as imperative the practice of free- 
dom in education. 

• CHAPTER 17 • 


This chapter is intended to suggest free market education 
as the appropriate alternative to government education. 

In previous chapters I have tried to demonstrate that 
government is organized pK>lice force and that its function 
is to keep the peace; that education is a peaceful, creative, 
productive pursuit of the type disastrously affected by gov- 
ernment intervention. Now, were government to step aside 
in education as it has stepped aside in religion — that is, 
if compulsory attendance, state dictated curricula, and forc- 
ible collection of the wherewithal to pay the school bill 
were omitted — education would be left to the free market. 

Were this break with tradition to take place, what 
would hapf>en? 

Strange as it may first appear, no one can know! Some 
will say that this admission is a retreat from my argu- 
ment that education would be improved if left to the free, 
competitive market. On the contrary, it is in support of the 
free market as the sole, effective means of improving edu- 

If you are compelled to do as someone else dictates, if 



unnatural obstacles are placed in your way, if you are re- 
lieved of responsibilities, I can at least predict that you 
will not function to your fullest in a creative sense. But 
no one can even roughly predict what wondrous things 
you will create if released from restraints and dictation, 
that is, if freed from obstacles. Indeed, you cannot make 
such predictions about yourself. What new idea will you 
have tomorrow? What invention? What will you do if a 
new necessity, an unexpected responsibility, presents itself? 
Wc know that creativity will be increased, nothing more. 

Confining the discussion to education, assume that you 
arc no longer compelled to send Johnnie to school; no 
government committee will prescribe what Johnnie must 
study; no government tax collector will take a penny of 
your or anyone else's income for schooling. This, it must 
be emphasized, is the free market assumption. 

Is Johnnie in any less need of learning than before? Are 
other persons — teachers, for instance — any less wise or less 
available for counsel and employment? Is there less money 
for educational purposes? If no longer compelled to pay 
the money in taxes, would you spend it on parties or 
cigarettes or alcohol or vacations rather than voluntarily 
spending it for Johnnie's education? If so, you value John- 
nie's education less than you value indulging yourself. In 
any event you make a choice — a choice that you obviously 
think to be the better alternative; scarcely anyone would 
claim that he had decided to choose what he values least 
when he could choose what he values most. 

Shall we say someone else thinks your judgment is bad 
if you decide in favor of vacations, for instance, as against 


Johnnie's education? Do you wish the person who thinks 
your choice is wrong forcibly to impose his notion of right 
on you? If so, just where are you going to draw the line 
as to what choices others are to make for you? To authorize 
others to make your choices is to put yourself in the role 
of an automaton. You can't believe that your choice is 
best and accept, at the same time, someone else's verdict 
that it is the worst. This is utter nonsense. To apply f>olice 
force to you is to contradict your judgments. If applied to 
others, it can only contradict their judgments. Who is the 
appropriate ruler of your educational program? You? Or 
others? Or a political committee which cannot be better 
than the lowest common denominator of others?* The free 
market way relies not on one judgment for the millions 
but on millions of individual judgments. 

R«ligiout Fr*«clom 

Why should not education be just as self-determined as 
religion? Is education more important than religion? Amer- 
icans condemn Russians, for instance, more for being un- 
godly than for knowing how to make little else than vodka 
and caviar that can comp>ete in international trade. But 
do we not emulate the communists by favoring the employ- 
ment of force in education? Applying police force to edu- 
cation is man playing at god, that is, trying to cast others 
in his own fallible image. 

In the United States, we have rejected the use of the 
police force for the purpose of determining one's religion. 

1 Refer lo Chapter 8. 


Are high moral standards and improving attitudes toward 
one's life and the life of others— prime objects of religion 
—of less value than knowing how to read or to write or to 
add two and two? Indeed, are not both education and re- 
ligion intimately personal matters, one as much as the 
other? Is the education of another any more of my or your 
business than the religion of another? 

In many countries — certainly in the U.S.A.— the idea of 
(i) being compelled by government to attend churches, 
or («) having the government dictate clergymen's subject 
matter, or (3) having the expenses of religious institu- 
tions forcibly collected by the tax man, would be an af- 
front to the citizens' intelligence. Why do people believe in 
applying police force to education and letting religion rest 
on self-determination? Logically, there appears to be no 
basis for the distinction. Tradition, custom — living with 
a mistake so long that reason is rarely brought to bear — 
may be the explanation. 

Being a disbeliever in the management by the police force 
of any creative activity, I have on countless occasions asked 
individuals in various occupational levels if they would 
let their children go uneducated were all governmental 
compulsions removed. The answers given me have always 
been in the same vein. If you will try this yourself, you 
will be impressed with how alike the answers are: "Do 
you think I am a fool? I would no more let my children 
go without an education than I would let them go with- 
out shoes and stockings. BUT some forms of compulsion 
are necessary, for there are many persons who do not have 
the same concern for their children as I have." 


And there you have it! Police force is never needed to 
manage my education, only necessary for the other fellow! 
The other fellow's weakness — the possibility of his having 
no interest in himself or in his offspring — is far more 
imaginary than real. It is, for the most part, a fiction of 
the compulsory, collectivistic myth. Should you doubt this, 
try to find that rare exception, "the other fellow." If every 
parent in this country were to consider authoritarianism in 
education as applying only to himself and could divorce 
from his thinking the "incomp)etency of others," there 
would be no police force applied to American education. 
Let any reader of this thesis, regardless of wealth status, 
honestly try this exercise and arrive at any other conclu- 

A Parental RMponsibility 

A child, from the time of birth until adulthood, is but 
the extension of the parent's responsibility. The child can 
no more be "turned out to pasture" for his education than 
for his morals or his manners or his sustenance. The pri- 
mary parental responsibility for the child's education can- 
not properly be shifted to anyone else; responsible parent- 
hood requires that some things remain for one's own atten- 
tions, no matter how enticingly and powerfully specializa- 
tion and division of labor may beckon one. And, the edu- 
cation of one's children is a cardinal case in p>oint. 

This does not mean parents should not have help — a 
lot of specialized assistance — with their educational re- 
sponsibility. It does mean that the parent cannot be re- 
lieved of the educational responsibility without injury to 


himself — that is, without injury to his own person and 
thus to the child who is but the extension of his personal 

According to the premise on which all of my own posi- 
tions are based, man's highest purpose in life is the un- 
folding of his own personality, the realization, as nearly as 
possible, of his creative potential, that is, his emergence, his 
hatching, his becoming. Such achievement presupposes that 
the educational process will go on through all of adulthood, 
as well as during childhood. Indeed, school for the child, 
if it is to have meaning, is but the preparation for a dy- 
namic, continuing process of education. The test of whether 
or not any primary and secondary educational system is 
meeting the requirements of true education is: Does it 
set the stage for adult learning? 

Folic* Force Interjected 
How does the application of police force to education 
bear on this question? It tends to relieve parents of educa- 
tional responsibilities, including the study that might have 
involved themselves. Compulsion — police force as boss — 
says, in cflFect, to the parent: "Forget about the education of 
your child. We, acting as government, will compel the 
child to go to school regardless of how you think on the 
matter. Do not fret unduly about what the child will 
study. We, the agents of compulsion, have that all ar- 
ranged. And don't worry about the financing of educa- 
tion. We, the personnel of authority, will take the fruits 
of the labor of parents and childless alike to pay the ex- 


penses. You, the parent, are to be relieved of any choice 
as to these matters; just leave it to the police force." 

Second, these police force devices falsely earmark the 
educational period. They say, ever so compellingly, that 
the period of education is the peri(>d to which the com- 
pulsion applies. The ceremonies of "graduation" — di- 
plomas and licenses — if not derivatives of this system, are 
consistent with it. Government education is resulting in 
young folks coming out of school thinking of themselves 
as educated and concluding that the beginning of earning 
is the end of learning. If any devotee of government edu- 
cation will concede that learning ought to continue 
throughout all of life, he should, to be consistent, insist on 
compulsion for adults as well as for children — for the octo- 
genarian as well as for the teenager. The system that is 
supposed to give all an equal start in life tends to put 
an end to learning just at the time when the spirit of in- 
quiry should begin its most meaningful growth.* 

2 "The normal human brain always contains a greater store of neuro- 
blasts than can p€>ssibly develop into neurons during the span of life, 
and the potentialities of the human cortex are never fully realized. 
There is a surplus and. depending upon physical factors, education, 
environment, and conscious effort, more or less of the initial store of 
neuroblasts will develop into mature, functioning neurons. The 
development of the more plastic and newer tissue of the brain depends 
to a large extent upon the conscious efforts made by the individual. 
There is every reason to assume that development of cortical functions 
is promoted oy mental activity and that continued mental activity is 
an important factor in the retention of cortical plasticity into late 
life. Goethe . . . [and others] are among the numerous examples of men 
whose creative mental activities extended into the years associated with 
physical decline. . . . There also seem sufficient grounds for the as- 
sumption that habitual disuse of these highest centers results in atrophy 
or at least brings aliout a certain mental decline." Renee von Euien- 
burg-Wiener, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (New York: The Mac- 
millan Company, 1939), p. 310. 


A Faith in Freedom 

It was stated above that no one could know what would 
happen were there to be no more police-force-as-boss in 
education. That assertion is correct concerning specifics 
and deuils, but there are generalizations which can be con- 
fidently predicted. For instance, one knows that creative 
energies would be released; that latent potential energies 
would turn to flowing, moving, power-giving, kinetic ener- 
gies and activities. Creative thought on education would 
manifest itself in millions of individuals. Such genius as 
wc |X>tentially and compositely possess would assert itself 
and ukc the place of deadening restraints. Any person who 
understands the free market knows, without any quali- 
fication whatsoever, that there would be more education 
and better education. And a person with a faith in free 
men is confident that the cost per unit of learning accom- 
plished would be far less. For one thing, there wouldn't 
be any police boss to pay for. Nor would there be the 
financial irresponsibility that characterizes those who spend 
other people's money. The free market is truly free.^ 

Not only is this faith in uninhibited, creative human 
energy rationally justified, but also there is evidence aplenty 
to confirm it. In other words, this faith is supported both 
theoretically and pragmatically. Except in the minds of 
those who are temperamentally slaves— those who seek a 
shepherd and a sheep dog, those who are ideologically at- 
tuned to authoritarianism— there does not exist a single 
creative activity now being conducted by man in voluntary 

'Refer to Chapter 13. 


action that could be improved by subjecting it to the po- 
lice-force-as-boss. But put any one of these activities, now 
voluntarily conducted, under government control, leave 
it there for a short period, and general opinion would 
soon hold that the activity could not be conducted volun- 

A couple of decades from now, after the electric p>ower 
industry has been nationalized for a few years — a likely 
event if present trends continue — there will be only a 
few people in America who will favor a return to private 
ownership and operation. The vast majority will not un- 
derstand how that activity could exist without police- 
force-as-boss and still serve the people. For confirma- 
tion of this point, reflect again on the many people today 
who believe that the relatively simple matter of mail de- 
livery could not be left to the free market without result- 
ing in chaos. 

It is a separation from reality, a blindness to the enor- 
mous evidence in support of freedom — like being unaware 
of our autonomic nervous system and its importance — that 
accounts for much of our loss of faith in the productivity 
of an educational system relieved of restraints and com- 
pulsions. The restraints, be it remembered, arc in the 
form of taxes — the taking away of the wherewithal to fi- 
nance one's own educational plan. The compulsions are 
in the form of forced attendance and dictated curricula. 

Several aids to the restoration of a faith in free market 
education are: 

1. Observe activities not yet socialized — that is, not con- 
ducted by police-force-as-boss — and how satisfied we arc with 


free market operation. And also note that people fare better in 
countries that are more free than in countries that are less free 
— ^without exception! 

1. What is there which we know how to do, and for which 
there is an effective demand, which remains undone in Amer- 
ica? Not a thing except that which police force restricts. There 
are many thousands of individuals expert in educational tech- 

Effective demand? Can anyone argue plausibly that there 
can be education of those who do not want it? The answer is 
the same as to the question, "What can anyone force another to 
learn?" You can push a pupil into a classroom, but you can't 
make him think. Those who want education — and they can 
never get it if they do not want it — will have education. 
Authoritarianism is antagonistic to the extremely sensitive 
spirit of inquiry, the will to learn. Remove all police-force-as- 
txMS, and we remove education's chief obstacle. 

J. While one cannot know of the brilliant steps that would 
be taken by millions of education-conscious parents were 
they and not the government to have the educational responsi- 
bility, one can imagine the great variety of cooperative and 
private enterprises that would emerge. There would be thou- 
sands of private schools, large and small, not necessarily un- 
like some of the ones we now have. There would be tutoring 
arrangemenu of a variety and ingenuity impossible to foresee. 
No doubt there would be both profit-making and charitably 
financed institutions of chain store dimensions, dispensing 
reading, writing, and arithmetic at bargain prices. There would 
be competition, which is cooperation's most useful tool."* There 
would be alertness of parents as to what the market would 
have to offer. There would be a keen, active, parental respon- 
sibility for their children's and their own growth. Socialism 
would be explained but seldom advocated in the classroom. 
The free market, by its nature, would rule out such waste and 

« Without compctilion among bakers, for instance, I have no basis 
for deciding on the baker with whom I will exchange, that is, co- 


extravagance. Competition for the educational dollar would 
attend to that. 

4. Let your imagination take you back to 1900. Suppose 
someone had been able to conjure up a picture of a 1964 auto- 
mobile with all of its wonderful performances. And suppose 
you had been asked how it could have been made. You could 
not even have grasped such a miracle, let alone have described 
how to make it. Yet, it has been produced, and without p)olice- 
force-as-boss. Indeed, what would the 1964 car be like if the 
government had comf>elled attendance at research laboratories, 
dictated the subjects to be explored and the wonders to be in- 
vented, and forcibly collected the funds for the undertaking?* 

Bear in mind that millions of unobstructed man-hours of 
ever-improving skills and thought, in a constant and complex 
free exchange process and with a strict attention to millions 
of individual judgments, have made the 1964 car so useful to 
so many f>eople. And so it would be with free market education. 
We cannot foretell what would happen if free men were re- 
sponsible for this activity; that is, if as much creative, unin- 
hibited thought — in response to consumer wants — ^werc put 
into education as has been put into motor cars. 

As it is, a vast majority of the people have given little more 
than cursory thought as to how to educate without employing 
police-force-as-boss. No wonder! We have the tendency not to 
think about problems not our own, about activities pre-empted 
by government. Remove the obstacles of coercion and the po- 
tential energy of man will approach realization. Police-force-as- 
boss as an effective means to the educational end is but a super- 
stition. It has no foundation in fact. 

5. The children of the poor? They obtained food and cloth- 
ing prior to our practice of governmental alms — more than 
ever available before. But education isn't as important as 
shoes and stockings? Education is only as important as life it- 
self. Johnnie couldn't get a job as truck driver unless able to 

^ I suspect it would be about as remote from consumer requirements 
as the vehicle now being built to put men on the moon. 


read street signs or bills of lading. Furthermore, remove the 
uxes we are now paying for present governmental inter- 
ventions — including education — and poor parents will not be as 
poor. And literally millions of Americans would like nothing 
better than voluntarily to finance the education of children of 
those who might be in unfortunate circumstances. 

Some, of course, will counter with the notion that receiving 
such charity is degrading, an unforgivable socialistic clich^.^ 
No one argues that voluntary giving is degrading; all consider 
giving as a brotherly act. Does not giving presuppose a re- 
cipient? Can giving be brotherly and receiving degrading? 
True, perhaps charity isn't as agreeable to a recipient as self- 
financing, but is it not more agreeable than police grants-in- 

If government were out of education as its boss — loo per 
cent — and if we had only free market education, no child in 
America would be denied an education any more than any 
child is presently denied religious instruction or shoes and 

Th« T«nd«ncy Toward Anarchy 
While the above case for free market education is good 
enough for me, I confess to a practical dilemma. Regard- 
less of the attempts throughout history to limit police force 
to its role of keeping the peace — a societal guard, so to 
speak — it has always gotten out of hand. Sooner or later, 
in every instance, the role has been shifted from guard to 
boss of the citizenry, that is, from people service to people 
control; protector turned predator, one might say! So sad 
is the record of limitation that some persons throw up 

• Scholarships— how do they differ?— are sought and granted on an 
loimous scale by the very persons who repeat this cliche. 


their hands in despair, incorrectly concluding that if lim- 
itation has never been maintained, it, therefore, is forever 
impossible. They begin to disbelieve even in government 
as peace keeper, insisting on no government at all; they 
become what might be called philosophical anarchists. 

The reason for unsuccessful limitation is that too few 
individuals have ever understood the price that must be 
paid for limitation. The price is far more than writing a 
Constitution and a Bill of Rights with their proscriptions 
against governmental excesses, and designing a government 
of checks and balances. The price is the resurrection of 
what has become a bromide into a living, dynamic per- 
formance: eternal vigilance. 

This performance is in the form of an achievement in 
understanding (i) the nature of government, (2) its 
uniqueness as police force, and (3) the limited comjjetence 
of, as well as the absolute necessity for, police force — an 
understanding to be learned, mastered, and remembered by 
at least enough persons to form an effective leadership in 
each new generation. This performance is a personal, day-in 
and day-out requirement, meaning that it cannot be dele- 
gated to others, much less to our forefathers; it can never 
be relegated to the past tense; it is a continuing impera- 
tive of each new moment, without end. 

The dilemma is this: The understanding of police-force- 
as-guard will, obviously, never be advanced but only re- 
tarded when the police-force-as-boss is put in the educa- 
tional driver's seat. Thus, unless a breakthrough is achieved 
by an individual here and there, capable of independent 
analysis and unafraid of parting company with the mores, 


the most important aspect of education for responsible 
citizenship will go unattended. 

The myth of government education, in our country to- 
day, is an article of general faith. To question the myth 
is to tamper with the faith, a business that few will read 
about or listen to or calmly tolerate. In short, for those 
who would make the case for educational freedom as they 
would for freedom in religion, let them be warned that 
this is a first-rate obstacle course. But heart can be taken 
in the fact that the art of becoming is composed of acts 
of overcoming. And becoming is life's prime purpose; 
becoming is, in fact, enlightenment — self-education, its 
own reward. 

• CHAPTER 1 8 • 


The ideal of freedom is to let anyone do anything he 
pleases, as long as his behavior is peaceful, with govern- 
ment empowered to keep the peace — and nothing more. 
An ideal objective, true, but one that must be pursued if 
we would halt the continuing descent of our society from 
bad to worse. Nothing short of this will suffice. And un- 
less we fully understand the ideal — and what makes for its 
attainment — we'll tend to settle for powerless, futile little 
pushes and shoves that yield no more than a false sense 
of something done. 

To grasp the difficulty of the problem as I see it, refer 
to what the statisticians call a Normal Curve — fat at the 
middle and thin at either end. Now, represent the adult 



population of the U.S.A. by vertical bands on this curve. 
Let the thin band at the extreme left (A) symbolize the 
few articulate, effective protagonists of authoritarianism in 
its numerous forms. Let the thin band at the extreme right 
(C) symbolize the few articulate protagonists of individual 
liberty, the free market economy and its related legal, eth- 
ical, and spiritual institutions. Between these two opposed 
types of intellectuals are the many millions (B) , more or 
less indifferent to this particular problem, as uninterested 
in understanding the nature of society and its economic 
and political institutions as are most people in under- 
standing the composition of a symphony. These millions, 
at best, are only listeners or followers of one intellectual 
camp or the other. Dr. Ludwig von Mises poses the prob- 
lem precisely as I see it: 

The masses, the hosts of common men [B], do not conceive 
any ideas, sound or unsound. They only choose between the 
ideologies developed by the intellectual leaders of mankind 
[A or CI- But their choice is final and determines the course 
of events. If they prefer bad doctrines [A], nothing can pre- 
vent disaster.* 

But, first, who are "the hosts of common men"? Rarely 
does an individual think of himself as included — only 
others belong to the masses! There is a great deal of such 
inaccurate self-appraisal. As related to the problem here 
in question, any person — be he wealthy or poor, a Ph.D. or 
unschooled, a political big-wig or voter, a captain of indus- 
try or an unskilled worker — qualifies as a member of the 

1 Human Action (1963 edition. New Haven: Yale University Press), 
p. 864. 


masses if he does "not conceive ideas, sound or unsound." 
Conversely, wealth or educational or occupational status is 
not a controlling factor in determining "the intellectual 
leaders of mankind." These leaders are the ones who con- 
ceive ideas, sound or unsound, and they come from all sta- 
tions in life. These facts are important to what follows. 

Today, the masses (B) are listening to and following the 
intellectual leaders at the left (A) . The reason is that the 
intellectuals at the right (C) have not done and are not 
now doing their homework; indeed, most of them have 
little inkling of either the need for or the nature of such 

Th« Spiritual Quality 

Many of us who think, write, and speak for freedom — 
myself included — have thought that our mission could best 
be served by teaching free market economics along with 
consistent governmental theory; that is, the disciplines 
which have to do with how man acts in respK>nse to given 
situations in society. But this, we are discovering, is not 
the whole story. For example, a man lacking in high moral 
and spiritual standards can have the libertarian philosophy 
"down pat" in the realm of political economy; he can 
grade loo per cent in any test but may, nevertheless, throw 
his influence behind collectivism! In such an instance we 
have nothing whatsoever to show for our educational pains 
— nothing but little pushes and shoves that yield no more 
than a false sense of something done. 

I know of a top labor official who, like some others, has 
learned and can explain the free enterprise philosophy as 


skillfully as anyone can. But this man, weak in moral dis- 
ciplines, disregards his knowledge as he grasps for per- 
sonal power. The rest of us would be as well off were he an 
economic illiterate. 

The above observation is not to deprecate teachings in 
the social sciences; far from it! These teachings are a 
requisite to understanding. Yet, to pin our hopes for a 
good society on these teachings alone is but to delude our- 
selves. What is the moral and spiritual quality of the man 
who is learning? This, we are discovering, is the real ques- 
tion; indeed, it is the primary question we must answer, 
and answer satisfactorily. 

I feel that the foregoing is a necessary preface to further 
probing in an area seldom explored by individuals de- 
voted to economic education. Education in economics and 
government is important, but this alone will not solve our 
problem. There is a further need, yes, a necessity, for what 
Jefferson called "a natural aristocracy among men, founded 
on virtue and talents." Without this — so will run my argu- 
ment—economic expertness or sound organizational theo- 
ries of society will avail us nothing. This is a hard confes- 
sion for one who has long thought that our country's 
disastrous trend could be reversed by little more than a 
return to economic sanity. 

Hard to Focus on the Problem 
The need for a natural aristocracy is not generally rec- 
ognized. Why? It may be that most of us are unaware of the 
relatively undeveloped state in which we as humans now 
exist. Our unawareness, such as it is, may stem from a fail- 


ure to put ourselves in proper long-range perspective. In 
no small measure, this would seem to account for a great 
deal of unwarranted self-esteem, for thinking of ourselves 
as the ultimate in perfection, for our egocentricity. Our 
natural tendency is to regard the universe as something 
which revolves around each little "me." 

No person in such a state of self-satisfaction is in any 
shape to recognize his incompleteness, let alone to im- 
prove, to emerge, to continue the hatching process, to soar 
into what Jefferson meant by a natural aristocracy. A per- 
son who regards himself as a complete specimen of hu- 
manity can hardly acquire more virtue and talents. If a 
natural aristocracy is a requirement, then it follows that 
most of us need a keener appreciation of our past and 
present status relative to what we might become. 

A slight beginning toward an improved perspective might 
be gained by comparing the time span of what we call 
humanity with the time span of that infinitesimal speck 
in the universe we call earth.* For instance, let a 10,000- 
foot jet runway represent the time span of this planet — 
perhaps 2,500,000,000 years. So far as the records reveal, 
Cro-Magnon man put in his appearance 40,000 years ago, 
less than the last two inches of the 10,000-foot runway! 
Man — from Cro-Magnon to us — is no more than a John- 
ny-come-lately I 

In what condition did these relatively recent ancestors 
of ours find themselves? Of knowledge, as we use the term. 

2 For a dramatic demonstration of the earth's infinitesimal place in 
the cosmos, see the drawings of Helmut Wimmer in the April 1959 issue 
of Natural History, or the book, Cosmic View, by Kecs Boeke, pub- 
lished by the John Day Company in 1957. 


it is doubtful if they had any. Science? Philosophy? Art? 
Religion? We wonder if they knew where they were or 
who they were. How could they have known the past with- 
out any history or tradition? Could they have had any 
capiul, that is, any material or spiritual wealth? Or any 
inheritance, that is, from the toil of past generations? They 
must have been without tools, without precedents, with- 
out guiding maxims, without speech as we know it, with 
little if any light of human experience. Their ignorance, 
as we understand the term, must have been nearly abso- 

The above would seem to be a fair picture of where we 
were only a few moments ago in long-range time. But 
where arc we now in relation to our destiny? Using hu- 
man destiny as a yardstick, we have barely moved. Ac- 
cording to the scientists, most species require a million 
years to develop. Should this rule of nature apply to hu- 
mans, then we have 95 per cent of the way to go in civ- 
ilizing ourselves — an occasion for humility as well as hope. 

Numerous Oversouis 
Of course, it is absurd to believe that human beings will 
upgrade more evenly in the coming eons than in the past 
40,000 years. Every species, including the human species, 
has its throwbacks and its great masses of mediocrity. But, 
encouragingly, the record is punctuated with numerous 

>A paraphrasing of a statement by the late Cassias Jackson Keyser, 
niathematicianphilosopher of Columbia University and quoted by 
A. Korzybski in his Manhood of Humanity (2nd ed. Lakeville: In- 
stitute of General Semantics, 1950), p. 295. 


oversouls, "the spirit which inspires and motivates all liv- 
ing things." While many among us show little if any ad- 
vancement over the original specimens, there have been 
and are a few who, in some respects, serve as lodestars, as 
guiding ideals, as models of excellence, as exemplars of the 
human potential, and thus qualify for what is meant by a 
natural aristocracy. Further, if the human sf>ecies makes 
the grade, instead of falling by the wayside, the unevenness 
we have noted — the mass of mediocrities and the few over- 
souls — probably will continue throughout the millennia 
of man's hoped-for emergence in consciousness, awareness, 
perception, reason; in man's p)ower to choose and to ac- 
complish what he wills. 

The careful observer can hardly help noting certain 
"breakthroughs" which demonstrate the potential in man- 
kind. Reflect on Jesus of Nazareth. Bear in mind such 
high specimens of humanness as Hammurabi, Ikhnaton, 
Ashoka, Guatama Buddha, Lao-tse, Confucius, Moses, Soc- 
rates, and, a moment closer to our own time, Beethoven, 
Milton, Leonardo da Vinci, Goethe, Rembrandt, and so 
on. Edison, Pasteur, Poincare, Einstein have, in their ways, 
soared above most of us and given us light. The perform- 
ances of these uncommon and remarkable jjersons are but 
prophecies of what potentially is within the reach of our 

Whether or not our species will move on toward its 
destiny or, more to the immediate point, whether or not 
we, the living, and our children will be able to play our 
role in and benefit from a human emergence, would seem 
to depend on what elements in the population predominate. 


Will those who are failures in the emerging process rise to 
political power, forming an inhibiting kakistocracy— a gov- 
ernment by the worst men— and thus retard or destroy the 
process?* Or will our course be determined by a natural 
aristocracy founded on virtue and talents? We, in our 
times, may well be living in one of the great moments of 

One thing seems crystal clear: The worst elements in 
each one of us will predominate in any moment of time 
when the aristocratic spirit in each one of us is not "in 
the pink of condition"; the slightest letdown in its moral, 
intellectual, and spiritual virility must inevitably witness 
disaster. This is true in nature: the weeds, pests, fungi, 
viruses, parasites take over whenever their natural ene- 
mies experience a letdown. Virtue and talents, the natural 
enemies of ignorance, knavery, foolishness, malevolence, 
must be perpetually flowering to hold these evils in check. 
This is to suggest that our species will not make the grade 
in the absence of those emerged spirits which inspire and 
motivate the human race toward its destiny. Man alone, of 
all creatures, has been granted the freedom to participate in 
his own creation. 

Conceding the need for a natural aristocracy is one 
thing, perhaps a first step in right thinking. But more is 
required than the mere repetition of the virtue and talents 
of those who have gone before us. If nothing more than 
carbon copies were required, it then follows that we of 

* "Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people 
or a Kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools? 
— James Russell Lowell. 


our generation would exhibit no improvement over Cro- 
Magnon man. We would have no language, no knowledge; 
the ignorance that was his would be adequate. No, the 
human situation is not meant to be static; it has no stop- 
ping place, no "this is it!" Instead, it is a dynamic process, 
the essential requirement of which is perp)etual hatching 
in virtue and talents, an eternal improvement in conscious- 
ness, awareness, perceptivity. 

Developing Consciousness 

No doubt the scientists are correct in claiming that most 
species take a million years to develop. Humanness, how- 
ever, is geared not to the finite but to the Infinite and 
thus, I believe, what applies to other species does not nec- 
essarily apply to man. True, man cannot conceive of in- 
finity, even in the case of time and space. But he can 
become aware of infinity by the simple acknowledgment 
that he cannot comprehend finite lime or space — a point 
in time or space beyond which there is no more lime or 
space. By the same token, man cannot conceive of infinite 
consciousness, consciousness being the singular, distinguish- 
ing characteristic of humanness, but he can become aware 
of it by admitting that he cannot conceive a level of con- 
sciousness beyond which there could be no further refine- 
ment of consciousness. 

The human situation, it seems, by reason of this peculiar 
quality of consciousness, is linked to eternity; its design 
includes no point of retirement; it admits of no Shangri-La 


implications whatsoever; perpetual struggle and the over- 
coming of endless confrontations is of its essence. How else 
can man emerge in consciousness except as he succeeds in 
overcoming obstacles? Difficulties, problems, hardships do, 
indeed, have their deep purpose. 

This, however, is not to deny that individuals are free 
to retire, to resign from the climb, to get out of life, to 
surrender self -responsibility, to think short-range, to "live 
it up" here and now; they can and do exercise their free- 
dom in this respect, and on the grand scale! And these who 
acquire so little of that which is distinctly human are as- 
suredly among the many who can and will take over in the 
absence of a first-rate aristocracy. 

It may very well be that a purpose is served by these 
dropouts from the struggle, among whom are numbered 
many of the famous, the wealthy, the "educated," and 
"leaden" in business, church, and state, along with hosts 
of the nondescript. It is the threat of their take-over, the 
danger of their dominance of the human situation, that 
triggers the aristocratic spirit into existence; their actions 
bring on reactions; their devolution is the genesis of evo- 
lution; these agents of disaster are meant to create an anti- 
agency of survival. Without them, the emerging process 
would cease; for man cannot become except as he over- 
comes. A strong position rests on strong opposition.^ At 
work here is the tension of the opposites or the law of 
polarity. In short, the unfortunate quitters serve as spring- 
boards to those who pioneer progress. 

» "Compensation" is the word Emerson used. Refer to his essay by 
this title. 


A Responsibility to Create 

If every action has its reaction, as observation affirms, 
some people will conclude that we then have nothing to 
fret about; in other words, let nature take its course while 
we spin our own little webs. What is overlooked in such 
a conclusion is that the human situation is peculiarly dis- 
tinguished by consciousness, a quality not found in other 
life forms. And as consciousness emerges, there comes with 
it a responsibility to share in the creative process. An ex- 
pansion of the individual's consciousness toward a har- 
mony with Infinite Consciousness demands of the indi- 
vidual that he take on, commensurately, other character- 
istics of his Creator. It is absurd to believe that there can 
be any growth in that direction without a corresponding 
emergence of creativity in man. 

True, every action has a reaction but, unless there is a 
conscious effort — unnatural effort or, better yet, above the 
natural — to exercise the new creativity born of added con- 
sciousness, the reaction to the dominance of ignorance, 
knavery, and foolishness will take only the form of dis- 
pleasure, hate, vengeance, cynicism, satire, political bicker- 
ing, snobbery, name-calling. Clearly, there is no emergent 
power in this type of reaction, none whatsoever. No nat- 
ural aristocracy can be born of this. Such reactions are at 
the same low level as the ignorant, knavish, foolish ac- 
tions. And, with nothing more than this, ignorance, knav- 
ery, foolishness will continue to dominate society. 

To summarize the foregoing: It is my belief that those 
qualities of character which have sufficed to bring prog- 
ress in the past will prove inadequate from here on; in- 


deed, the mere duplication of past virtue and talents will 
not stand us in good stead right now. We need, at this 
juncture in man's emergence, a natural aristocracy of 
higher quality than has heretofore existed. Looking at the 
human situation with an emerging perspective permits no 
other conclusion! The natural aristocracy must be a more 
distinguished body than ever before, because today's crisis 
is that much greater. Extraordinary effort must be put 
forth as a necessary condition to human emergence, or 
even for survival! 

Our Prime Objective 

If the above observations are valid, it follows that the 
establishment of a natural aristocracy should be our prime 
objective; the teaching of economics or other disciplines 
of the social sciences can be meaningful only if individ- 
uals of virtue and talents are presupposed. What, then, are 
the qualifications for membership? 

Unless careful, we are likely to think of membership in 
the natural aristocracy as consisting of a set of persons, for 
such, indeed, has been the case in various so-called aristoc- 
racies, composed, as they have been, of privileged minori- 
ties possessed of great wealth or social position. Aristoc- 
racy, in common usage, has been correctly interpreted as 
consisting of persons of a certain lineage or legal standing. 

But the natural aristocracy, such as we have in mind, 
is even more exclusive; its membership is distinguished by 
manifested virtue and talents. It is not based on law or a 
given parentage; it must be regarded as more than an 


order of persons because there is no individual who is 
absolutely virtuous and talented, nor anyone wholly lack- 
ing some virtue and talents. 

Now and then there is a person who manifests extraor- 
dinary virtue and talents, relative, at any rate, to the rest 
of us. Observing this, we are led into the error of following 
a fallible individual rather than emulating the virtue and 
talents he possesses, these being the bench marks of a nat- 
ural aristocracy. The error is serious. To become a Con- 
fucius or a Goethe is impossible, but the virtue of the one 
and the talents of the other are to some degree attainable 
and, perhaps by a few, surpassable. 

How, then, is the individual to seek identification with 
the natural aristocracy among men? Strict instruction, I 
am certain, would deny to anyone the privilege of saying, 
"I am now a member of the natural aristocracy." Glory 
and fame for the man would not be permissible, only glory 
and fame for the virtues and talents — the characteristics 
rather than the characters! 

The individual himself, insofar as he might have any 
association with this tyf)e of aristocracy, would be now in 
and now out, as virtue and talents showed forth through 
his actions or were obscured by them. Perhapxs we could say 
that no individual would have any identification with the 
aristocracy whatsoever except during those moments when 
he might be in an improving state. In this slate — such 
would be the concentration — he would not himself be 
aware of his own status. Indeed, any feeling of what-a-good- 
boy-am-I would be a sure sign of exclusion from the aris- 


A natural aristocraq^, then, does not consist of "aristo- 
crats" as commonly interpreted but, instead, is an aristo- 
cratic spirit which might show forth or manifest itself in 
any serious and determined person. What persons? Han- 
ford Henderson answered the question in this manner: 

He may be a day laborer, an artisan, a shopkeeper, a pro- 
fessional man, a writer, a statesman. It is not a matter of 
birth, or occupation, or education. It is an attitude of mind 
carried into daily action, that is to say, a religion. It [the aris- 
tocratic spirit] is the disinterested, passionate love of excel- 
lence . . . everywhere and in everything; the aristocrat, to de- 
serve the name, must love it in himself, in his own alert mind, 
in his own illuminated spirit, and he must love it in others; 
must love it in all human relations and occupations and ac- 
tivities; in all things in earth or sea or sky.^ 

Henderson's statement pretty well stakes out the dimen- 
sions of the aristocratic spirit, in essence, the love of excel- 
lence which, of course, includes the love of righteousness. 
And by "disinterested" Henderson meant that this attitude 
of mind should be for its own sake, without thought of re- 
ward in the here or the hereafter. 

The love of excellence for its own sake! This is the at- 
titude of mind which, when acquired, witnesses man's 
sharing in Creation. He becomes, in a sense, his own man. 

Indeed, the man who acquires the aristocratic spirit 
will, quite naturally, have the same viewpoint of economics 
as does Henry Hazlitt: 

• Excerpted from an article by Hanford Henderson entitled "The 
Aristocratic Spirit" which appeared as a reprint in The North Ameri- 
can Review, March, 1920. 



The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the 
immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it 
consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not mere- 
ly for one group but for all groups [universality]. 

The man with the aristocratic spirit will, along with 
Immanuel Kant, consider a maxim as good only if this 
same principle of universality can rationally be applied to 
it;^ he will no more be guided by the fear of opprobrium 
on the part of his fallible fellows than he will by the de- 
sire for their approbation. He acts, thinks, and lives in 
long-range terms, for he has linked himself with eternity 
by his love of and devotion to excellence. 

Imagine, if we can, the enormous difference between 
the thoughts and actions of laborers, artisans, shopkeepers, 
professional men, writers, statesmen, as we commonly ob- 
serve them, and the thoughts and actions of these self- 
same people were they imbued with the aristocratic spirit I 

Suggested Procedures 

Let us return now to the Normal Curve, displayed at the 
beginning of this chapter, and contemplate the task of the 
few at the right (C) . Only through unprecedented excel- 
lence on their part can disaster be averted. In our search 
for an excellence that might attract the millions (B) away 
from authoritarian leadership (A) , I would offer two simple 

7 If one can rationally concede that every person on carlh [univer- 
sality] has the right to his life, his liveUhood, his liberty, then, accord- 
ing to Kant, the maxim is goo<l. 



The first concerns humility: Neither we nor anyone else 
can design or draft or organize a good society. No one per- 
son nor any committee can make even a pencil; a good 
society is more complex than that! A pencil or a good so- 
ciety or whatever is but a benefit or dividend which flows 
as a consequence of antecedent attention to one's own 
emergence toward excellence. This thought, a realization of 
one's limitations, eliminates useless endeavors; it steers 
one toward the aristocratic spirit; it is the way to qualify. 

The second is but a detail that may help in making 
qualification less difficult: Regardless of the benefit we 
would have bestowed, always strive for a related goal over 
and beyond the benefit. The method or principle I have in 
mind is not new; it was known by the ancients: "But seek 
ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all 
these things shall be added unto you." This principle of 
seeking something higher than the benefit was meant as 
well for general, day-to-day, earthly application. It is a 
right principle and, therefore, must work at all levels of 

For instance, if one desires admiration, do not seek ad- 
miration but strive for a behavior that can be admired. If 
we would be rid of poverty, then offer not handouts but 
liberty to all. In short, if one's ideal is no higher than the 
benefit, the pursuit of that ideal, paradoxically, will have 
no reward in store. A by-product never has its origin in 
itself, but always in something superior to itself. Capital is 
the antecedent to a dividend. 

If we would have a good society then look not to it, 
but to excellence in all things— and above all to virtue and 


integrity in our every deed and thought. The dividend 
will be as good a society as we deserve. 

The ups and downs in society are guided by the rise 
and fall of the aristocratic spirit, by the unremitting pursuit 
of excellence. It is utter folly to look for social felicity 
when this spirit is in the doldrums, and no maneuver less 
than the passionate pursuit of excellence will matter one 
whit. The good society, with its open opportunity for in- 
dividual development — let me repeat — is a dividend we 
receive when virtue and talents are flowering, when the 
love of excellence in all things is riding high — even in 

I can try to qualify. So can you. This is the way every 
trend gets its start. Who knows? We might start a trend! 


Prepared by VerneliaA. Crawford 
The letter "n" following a figure refers to a footnote. 

Academic freedom. 18090 
Acton, John (Lord), 67 
American Revolution. 15 
American setting, past and 

present. 1030 
Amish farmers. 59 
Argentina, to 
Aristocracy. 225 
Assignats. French. 19 
Association. 89. 95. 102 

diagnosed. 66 

forms of, 1$ 

political, 29 

responsibility and, 63, 77, 185 

result of, 146 


Ballot. 114 

Barmine, Alexander, 44 

Bastiat. Frederic, 27, 430, 119, 166 

Bill of Rights, 14 

Boeke, Kecs, 226n 

Bohm-Bawerk, Eugen von, 154 
Bradford (Governor), 12 
Bradley, Omar, igzn 
Burke, Edmund, 114 
Byler, Valentine Y., 40 

Candidates, political, 109 
Charity, 60, 219 
Chevalier, Michel, 27 
Citizens, choices of, 110, 114 
Cleveland, Grover, 60 
Cobden, Richard, 27 
Coercion, 49; see also Government 
Coin clipping, 19 
Commitments, 5 
Committee, appointed, 89-107 
Common man, 223 
Communism, 12, 46; see also 

Compulsion, social leveling by, 66; 

see also Government 
Computers, 157-70 
Conscience, commitment to, 5 




Constitution, U. S., 14, 173 
Corruption defined, 4 

energy released by, 15, 151, 164 

exercised, 136 

forced, 66 

illustrated, 53 

limited, 46 

mental, 2i4n 

Russian, i64n 
Creator, 13, 14, 31,45 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 56, 64, 

England, freedom in exchange, 26 
Eulenburg- Wiener, Renee von, 

Excellence, pursuit of, 222-38 

development of, 75 

freedom in, 19, 163 

labor, 60, 136, 149 

see also Money 

Decalogue, The, 127 

Declaration of Independence, 13, 

Demigod, 196, 200 
Dictatorship, 69 



art of, 236 

calculation in, 157 

circulatory system, 24 

discovery in, 144-56 

education in, 59, 225 
Economy, harmed by socialism, 


academic freedom in, 180 

economic, 59, 225 

extent of, 144 

family and, 182, 212 

free market, 180, 208-21 

government, 180, 191-207 

police force and, 210 

private, 204, 208 

religion and, 210 

tutors in, 182 
Egotists, 146, 196 
Elections, 108 

Family, education by, 182, 212 
Ferris Institute. 184 
Fleming, Harold. 153 

coercive, 49 

creative. 66 

kinds of, 33. 134 

use of. 10 

see also Government 
France. 19, 21, 167 
Free market 

computers, 157 

education. 180. 208-21 

specialization. 77 

value theory. 154 

aspects of, 10, 170 

choice of, 16 

e<Iucation and. 180 

exchange and. 19. 163 

issue of. 222 

loss of. 17 

prohibited. 125. 132 

student of, 124. 134. 145 

George III, 13 
German inflation. 25 
Glover, T. R., ir,on 


authority, 13, 29. 63, 66, 77, 146 
coercion, 49 
communistic, 12,46 
compulsory, 66 
dictatorship, 69 
education, 180, 191-207 
expenditures, 17, 39, 73, 82, 180, 

force, 10. 49, 66, 134 
growth of. 28 
income, 17, 39, 72, 8t 
inflation, 18, 20, 21, 25, 82 
leveling principle, 58 
limited, 12, 34 
ownership, 132 
planned, 47, 145 
plunder, 118 
postal service, 171 
prohibitions, 125, 132 
responsibility, 130 
role of, 34. ii7n, 124, 145 
Social Security. 39 
socialistic. See Socialism 
statism, 73 
taxation, 17, 39, 82 
voting, 108 
welfare itate, 47 


Hall. Verna M.. comp., igsn 
Hammurabi, Ckxie of, 126 
Harper. F. A.. 86n 
Hayek, F. A., 44n 
Hazlitt. Henry. 236 
Heard. Gerald. 45 
Henderson, Hanford, 235 
Henry. Patrick, 105 
Hoff, Trygve J. B., i6in 
Honesty, 74 

Housing. 28. 95, 99, 191 
Human destiny, 31, 227 




government, 17, 39, 72, 82 

personal, 6i, 66 
Incorruptibility, 4 
Individualism, 8, 58-71, 223; see 

also Freedom 

defined, 82 

explained, 18 

French, 21 

German, 25 

pressure groups and, 82-88 

Russian, 20 
Integrity, 74, 110, 117, 196; 

see also Morality 
Internal Revenue Service, 39 
Investments, 62 


James, William, 32 
Jefferson, Thomas, 225 
Joad, C. E. M., iggn 


Kakistocracy, 229 
Kant, Immanuel, 236 
Keyser, Cassius Jackson, 227n 
Korzybski, A., 227n 
Kravchenko, Victor, 44 


division of, 60, 136, 149 

income, 61 

production, 46, 47, 132, 136 

unions, 84 

use, 132 

value theory, 155 

wages, 86 
Law, function of, 119 


Le Bon, Gustave, 122 

Leadership, 49, 224 

Liberty, students of, 124, 134, 145^ 

see also Freedom 
Lies, initiated, 89 
Lowell, James Russell, 229n 


Mail, 171-79 

Man, purposes of, 8, 58, 223 
Marginal utility theory, 154 
Market economy, 77, 154, 157, 180, 

Marx, Karl, 12, 29,58, 115 
Masses, 93, 223 
Miller, Mattie Storms, i92n 
Milliken, Robert, 144 
Mises, Ludwig von, 54, 161 n, 223 
Mobs, 93, 223 

coin clipping, 19 

expansion, 20 

income, 17, 39, 61, 66, 72, 82 

inflated, 18, 20, 21, 25, 82 

investments, 62 

medium of exchange, 24 

supply decreased, 82 

double standard of, 64 

integrity and, 74, no, 117, 196 

nature of, 128 

rights, 33 

voting and, no 


National Council of Churches, 87, 

Normal Curve, 832, 257 
Noiiy, Lecomtc du, 144, igsn 



Organization principle, 63, 89, 93, 

Ownership, 66, 132 


agents of, 16 

interpreted, 7, n 

keeping, 124-35 

philosophies of, 31 
Pencil, making, 136-43 
Per6n, Juan, 20 
Pilgrim Fathers, 11, 29, 47 
Planned economy, 47, 145: 

see also Government 
Plato, socialism defined by, 49 
Plunder. 118 
Police force, 28, 210 
Politics, two-parly system, 108 
Popper, Karl R., 490 
Postal services, 171-79 
Pressure groups. 82-88 
Prices determined, 159, 164 
Production, 46, 47, 132, ijiS; 

see aba Labor 
Prohibitions, 185. 1)8 
Property. 66. 152 
Prosperity, 72 


Creator. 13. 14. Si'45 

education and. 210 

see also Morality 
Rent control, 95. 99. 191 

authority and, 63. 77. 185 

citizens and. no. 114 

government, 130 

parenul, 182, tit 


Russell, Dean, 16211 

capiulism in, 48n 

creative energy in, i64n 

inflation in, 20 

prices in, 164 

socialism in, 47 

Savings, 62 

Schmidt. Emerson P., 84n 

Shapley. Harlow, i92n 

Shelly, Thomas J., 59n 

Social Security, 59 


adopted, 16, 32 

Americanized, 52 

democratic, 46 

economy harmed by, 72-81 

exercised, 132 

explained, 59 

financed, 82 

French, 21 

individual harmed by, 5871 

noncreative, 4657 

opposition to, 149 

Plato's definition of. 49 

practiced, 35 

Russian, 47 

suppositions of, 146 

studenu of liberty and, 124, 134, 

Socrates, 144 
Specialization. 75 
Standard of living. 76 
Statism, 73; see also Government 
Strife, way of life, 31-45 
Subsidy program, 35 



Talents, 225 

Taxation, 17, 39, 8^ 
"Teachableness, 14^^ 
^Teaching, i«i; see a/^o-Education 

Tennessee Valley Authority, 35 

Textile industry, 62 * 

Tolstoy, Leo, 89 

Trimmers, 110 

Trine, Ralph Waldo, 54 

Truth, principle of, 1, 91 

Tutors, 182 

Value judgments, 192 
Value theory, 154 
Violence, way of life, 31 
Virtue, 225 

Voluntarism, 29, 60, 219 
Voting, 108-23 


Wages, 86 

Wakar, Aleksy, i62n 

Wealth distributed, 46; see also 

Welfare state, 47; see also 

Williams, Roger, i98n 
Wimmer, Helmut, 226n 

Zielinski, Janusz, i62n